The necessary closure of marts across the country, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, comes as a blow to farmers, according to Ger O’Brien, ICSA suckler chair.
O’Brien said he is hopeful that the closures will only be for a short period, for the sake of farmers that depend on marts.
“Livestock marts play a vital role in Irish farming and are a critical resource in determining a fair price for farmers. ICSA is concerned that a prolonged mart closure would lead to a lot of difficulties for farmers who depend on the service they provide.”
“The livestock mart provides a level of transparent and open competition for livestock and it gives farmers a realistic view of what livestock are making. Many farmers who do not finish cattle on a commercial scale are very reliant on marts for selling stock and they offer the advantage of allowing farmers to see what stock are worth.”
“Moreover, cattle are weighed properly, and farmers can rely on prompt and guaranteed payment. Farmers need to be very careful about dealing on-farm and need to be conscious of the risk of cheques bouncing.” the suckler chair added.
Despite the marts closing, there is no boundary to farmers selling animals privately. O’Brien has encouraged farmers to be innovative when advertising and selling livestock privately, in order to get a fair price and good interest.
“While farm-to-farm sales can still take place, it will be vital that marts are available to weigh stock, to facilitate payment and to update the AIM database."
“This could be a time for innovation in the selling of livestock and farmers who are new to selling cattle need to look at how to offer stock for sale using social media and internet sites. Good photos and accurate information around weights, and ICBF figures in the case of breeding stock are helpful.”
Despite the fact that animal trading can continue, he still feels that the closure of the mart will have an impact on the farming community, both commercially and socially.
“There is no doubt that the closure of marts, even for a short period, is a blow to farmers and to the rural communities where they are located."
"Apart from the important commercial considerations, marts have provided a vital social facility for farming people, some of whom have no other social outlet. It is to be hoped that this is a very temporary measure and that the national campaign to slow Covid-19 succeeds sooner rather than later,” he concluded.