The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association has called on the Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine, and Government to make immediate changes to the current restrictions in livestock marts.
National president, Colm O’Donnell, stressed how marts need to be given the chance to facilitate ring-side buyers in a socially-distanced manner that protects those present.
“I have every confidence that our mart managers and their staff can do this, as they have been doing so for the last number of months.”
“The introduction of level 5 and the associated restrictions for the sale of livestock through marts has been poorly thought out with no consideration given to its impact on livestock sales and price.”
“For many of our farmers, especially those in the sheep and suckler sectors, the sale of stock at this time of year is essential in providing the income that pays their bills and provides them with cash-flow into next spring.”
“To deny these farmers the opportunity of getting the best price possible will negatively impact their income well into next year.”
Off-licenses stay open
The Government, he continued, needs to act now, and allow ring-side sales to recommence. This issue, he added, needs to be recognized as an essential form of trading.
“If off-licenses can stay open at a time where the chief medical officer recognises the clear link between alcohol and the spread of the virus then, there can be no reason to prohibit the ring-side sale of livestock.”
‘Government has got this one wrong’
The farm leader concluded by outlining the role of the Government in fighting this virus by bringing “as many people as possible with them”.
“There is a definite change in people’s attitude now to last spring with more questioning of restrictions and why they are applied.”
“Currently inside farming, there is a clear view that the Government has got this one spectacularly wrong. They need to accept this and act on it or otherwise, they will lose the farming support and much of rural Ireland.” O’Donnell concluded.