The current sales process in livestock marts is unworkable and unsustainable.
That is the view of the founder of Ireland’s Future, Gerry Loftus, who stated that the situation cannot be allowed to continue and requires immediate action.
“Covid-19 is being used to promote the sale of online technology’ to livestock marts. We first heard of broadband in 2003. Many of us are still just hearing about it because it hasn’t been delivered to our farms.”
“A recent report found that 40% of livestock marts also have inadequate broadband to facilitate online sales. Nobody knows how long Covid-19 will be with us, and this matter requires a long-term solution.”
“Mart managers must engage with NPHET to find a long-term answer. Every single person involved in the current process of online sales is stressed to the limit.”
“Mart office staff cannot be expected to contact hundreds of farmers and buyers in order to conclude a sale.”
He said sales rings need to be “brought up to a safety standard that is acceptable to NPHET”.
“We suggest that a sizeable percentage of sales rings are fitted with portable compartments with one buyer per compartment to limit contact.”
“The answer to the problem lies here, with finding a way to get buyers back at the ring. All stakeholders should engage constructively to achieve this.”
Clarification from agriculture minister
“Ireland’s Future fundamentally disagree with any sector of the industry having ownership of online sales platforms. We request that Minister Charlie McConalogue confirms if these sales apps are regulated, and if so by whom.”
“Confirmation on whether the details of animal sales are being stored by these apps, and if so for what purpose is needed. We want clarification from the minister, if publicly displayed information about farmers’ livestock sales, is in line with current data protection regulations.”
“This whole situation is having a seriously negative impact on livestock sales, with a financial loss to farmers, and adverse health impacts on all concerned,” Loftus concluded.