The physical closure of Marts is causing cattle prices to plummet amid Level 5 COVID-19 restrictions Galway East TD Sean Canney has said.
Cattle prices have fallen to as low as €100 a head in recent days Canney said, calling on the government to allow physical sales to resume at marts.
“I am requesting the Government to allow buyers to go to marts under social distancing rules. The marts have put restrictions in place including records for contact tracing and sanitization. The mart managers also have identified the capacity of their respective marts”.
“Whilst I accept that we all need to respect the restrictions now in place, I urge the restrictions to be reviewed to allow buyers enter the marts on a controlled basis”.
The Department of Agriculture announced last week that Mart sales would only be allowed to continue online amid Level 5 lockdown restrictions.
Systems put in place for online sales were also criticised for technical problems which caused issues in multiple marts last week.
Over 500 cattle had to be brought home from Ballinasloe Mart as a result of the online system breaking down.
IFA President Tim Cullinan has also said that operating procedures must be reviewed to allow a limited number of in person buyers.
“The reality is that relying on the ‘online only’ system is too ambitious. The system has been bedding down well as a complementary system to bidding at the ringside.”
“However, clear challenges have now emerged related to broadband and the ability of systems to cope with the volume of cattle and bids during what it a hectic time of the year.”
Deputy Canney said that until the online system is “resilient and fit for purpose” marts should be allowed to exercise discretion in how they operate.
Mart owners are concerned that cattle prices will be affected by this issue Sean Canney said, “which would be detrimental to farmers”.