“Intensive” talks have between held between Mart Managers of Ireland (MMI) and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) over the past fortnight to discuss the possibility of holding auctions when health restrictions are readdressed on May 5th.
The organisation, which represents over 30 marts nationwide, has produced a draft SOP which they feel is “workable for all marts throughout the country”.
“Even though the measures contained in the new SOP are loss-making for marts, they are measures we will implement in order to ensure the continuance of what is a vital service to the farming community at such a busy time of the year.” the group stated.
MII said it is seeking the approval from the DAFM for the measures outlined below.
These protocols, MMI pointed out, are in place to meet two main objectives:
- Ensure the public health is protected against the spread of coronavirus; this includes protecting our staff, customers, and the wider general public;
- Ensure the food supply chain is not disrupted. Livestock movements are “essential” for this and should be facilitated in the most “efficient and protective way”.
Essential sales only
MMI’s focus is on essential sales only. Therefore:
- Sellers are requested to prioritise the supply of stock that the food supply chain requires. This includes prime-stock, cull animals, and store animals (cattle and sheep).
Measures for buyers
- Only buyers will be permitted onto mart premises;
- Buyers must be pre-registered to attend the mart and declare they are healthy and not in known contact with anyone who has Covid-19 symptoms;
- No buyers permitted who are over 70-years-old;
- No buyers permitted who have an underlying health condition;
- Only one family member permitted;
- The mart will keep a log of buyers who attend each sale, and this will include name, address, and contact number.
- Buyers must strictly adhere to social distancing measures: it is recommended that rings and galleries be marked out to ensure a minimum 2metres spacing between buyers;
- The number of buyers will be restricted to a maximum of 25 - if the ring size permits;
- Buyers must use gloves and hand sanitisation provided;
- Buyers to enter office individually or at a maximum of two at a time if office suitably large enough;
- Buyers must leave the mart as soon as business concludes and use hand sanitisation on exit.
Measures for sellers
As numbers of stock will be limited, sellers must pre-book stock with the mart and provide a contact number.
- Sellers must remain in their vehicles on arrival and hand paperwork through window to mart staff. They must not take paperwork to office or enter the mart premises at any time for any reason;
- Sellers must leave the mart yard as soon as stock are off-loaded;
- All stock will be sold conditionally and sellers will be contacted shortly after the point-of-sale with prices;
- Cheques will not be available for collection - All cheques will be posted;
- Sellers who do not sell must let the mart know when they will return to collect stock.
Measures for removal of stock post-auction
- Hauliers/farmers arrive at mart in normal manner, however, they are to remain in vehicles until loading bay space becomes available;
- Reverse into loading bays and—from a safe distance of at least 2 metres—inform the mart staff of consignment to collect;
- Mart staff to deliver livestock to pens beside loading bays and haulier / farmer should complete the loading of the lorry/trailer;
- Haulier/farmer to leave mart site immediately.
Measures for staff
- Staff log will be kept for each sale;
- Staff to use good practice in personal hygiene and use all sanitisation measures in place;
- Staff over 70 or with underlying health issues will not be expected to work;
- Yard staff to practice social distancing with each other when handling stock and also when dealing with sellers at their vehicle windows;
- Barriers should be put in place at office counter to allow at least a 2-metre gap between office staff and buyer;
- Extra measures to be taken by cleaning staff to ensure work surfaces are disinfected after each sale.
- All restaurant / canteen facilities must remain closed;
- All seating should be removed from communal areas;
- Any third-party market trader or market stall will not be permitted at this time.