Level 5 restrictions at marts are posing “enormous” difficulties for sheep farmers.
ICSA sheep chair, Sean McNamara, who is of this view, has called on Minister McConalogue to revisit the matter.
“Sheep farmers need to be able to make informed decisions around the stock they buy-in. These decisions are based on physical inspections of lambs and judgement calls around fitness to kill.”
“You cannot buy lambs without handling them. None of this is possible with online sales,” he added.
“Sheep farmers have been put at a severe disadvantage as it is simply not possible to properly evaluate stock online.”
“We cannot continue with a situation whereby trade is being stifled to such an extent that farmers are unable to farm.”
He said primary producers are a vital part of the food chain. They must be afforded the ability to continue to conduct their businesses.
The sheep chair shed light on the wider issue of being able to access the sales at all.
“The lack of broadband reliability is wreaking havoc, but the age demographic of sheep farmers is also an issue.”
“By and large, sheep farmers are that bit older and not as robust when it comes to trading online and allowances must be made for this.”
“We have to keep our businesses going and greater flexibility will have to be shown around allowing limited numbers into marts for sales,” McNamara concluded.