PERMISSION from government to resume the sale of animals at marts, under strict new regulations, has been welcomed in Clare.
Concerns had been voiced by farming leaders after all marts were shut down last week in response to the Covid-19 crisis. After intensive talks about how livestock trading can continue at a time when hundreds of thousands of animals need to be sold, the Department of Agriculture has agreed to allow marts to resume operations on a limited basis. It is understood that marts will oversee the weighing, buying and selling of animals without crowds being allowed to attend. Each mart will be required to submit operating protocols for approval before being allowed to conduct any business.
“Farmers in Clare are under pressure to sell animals on at this time,” said ICMSA County Chairperson Martin McMahon. “We’re a productive county and cattle from here go to the midlands and East and at least if the marts are available to match buyers and sellers, that is welcome news. It shouldn’t be difficult to do because the mart will be familiar with the kind of animals local farmers produce. It would also mean there is security around payment and that’s vital. The marts had been doing a great job in terms of hygiene and social distancing and while I would have preferred to see them continue to operate within the restrictions. At least now some of their services will still be there for farmers and I hope the new measures can be introduced as soon as possible.”
The move has been given a guarded welcome by Clare’s Independent TD, Michael McNamara, who called for more detail on how the system would work.
“There are auction rooms which have facilities for online bidding. If marts could use those, that might make the system more effective. We will have to wait and see what exactly is proposed in practical terms.”
Meanwhile, Martin McNamara, General Manager of Clare Marts said the news was welcome, but noted that details of how precisely marts will operate still have to be ironed out.
“Any measure what will help to alleviate the problems that farmers are facing now, especially with regard to the sale and movement of livestock, has to be welcomed,” he said. “Protocols for social distancing and other control measures will now have be be agreed with personnel from the Department of Agriculture and from the HSE.”
As for the time-frame for the resumption of activities at marts in Clare, Mr McNamara said he hoped local agreement could be reached within days and that farmers would be kept informed of new arrangements.