In an ideal world, it would and will be great to see both online and ringside bidding in livestock marts, writes Kevin Comiskey, IFA Leitrim sheep committee chairman.
Firstly, I would like to thank all marts for making huge efforts to facilitate the sale of animals in these very difficult times, especially my three local marts in Leitrim, namely Dowra, Manorhamilton and Drumshanbo.
I think personally if marts were allowed 25 socially-distanced customers in sales rings, it may facilitate buyers that are unable to operate the online services. We also must be conscious of the fact that it may not be easy to police this.
A lapse of time
It is difficult where there is poor internet coverage and a lapse of time can mean that from when you push the button to enter a bid to when it makes it to the screen, the hammer may have fallen.
This leaves it very difficult on buyers as they do not know if they are the final bidder or not. Also, buyers do not know if the seller is accepting the offer or not.
If they went to buy, five animals, for example, and only get three of them, if the farmer was in the box they would know and could bid on two more.
There is also the social aspect to this – farmers look forward to the sale of their animals and meeting with their fellow farmers.
Of course, there is a huge amount of extra work that must be undertaken by marts and they should be supported.
However, the safety of everyone is foremost. We will all have to endure and hope it will be over in the near future.