Golden Vale Mart, Tullamore TT1500GS
GVM MART in Tullamore plans to develop a virtual bidding system for buyers and sellers within the coming three weeks if Covid-19 restrictions are not relaxed.
Mart Manager, Antoinette Daly said their preferred option would be to hold cattle sales with a maximum of 50 people at the ringside.
“We would carry out all the necessary precautions to ensure that everyone is safe if the Department of Agriculture allow such a development,” Ms Daly told the Tribune this week.
She said otherwise the mart committee would move to install the virtual bidding system which has been pioneered by a local company.
She said that the mart was matching up sellers with buyers at present but it was not an ideal system to work with.
Tullamore Mart closed in the middle of last month due to the Covid-19 situation.
At the time, the mart committee stated that the decision had been taken in the “interest of our loyal staff, their families, our customers and their families and wider public.”
“We are postponing our weekly sales i.e weanlings, sheep and cattle until further notice,” the statement outlined.
It added: “As the number of people getting this virus is increasing everyday we feel if we don’t stop and take guidance from the experts in the health organisation this pandemic will only get worse. As our elders always thought us your health is your wealth. We need to stop and think before this totally gets out of control.”
“We hope the farmers understand our decision it was not easy to do this but we feel the quicker we try stop this virus getting out of hand the quicker we can look
forward to returning to business. Do look after yourselves in the meantime and keep safe,” the mart advised its clients.
The President of the Irish Farmers Association, Tim Cullinan last week acknowledged measures announced by the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, including permitting the marts to facilitate trade between farmers.
He said it was important that the marts could facilitate trade to guarantee payment, assemble calves for export and utilise their weighing facilities for cattle and sheep sales.
Mr Cullinan stated that the IFA has been working with the marts and the Department of Agriculture to get the essential trade in livestock moving again while complying with the Government and HSE COVID-19 guidelines and which do not require people to assemble.
He also said it was important that all eligible applicants could be funded under the calf investment scheme.
However, he said that the beef market was now in turmoil and that significant measures were required at EU and national level to support beef farmers
“The Minister and Government now have a lot more flexibility as the EU Commission have increased state aid limits. While there a lot of other calls for funding, farmers cannot be forgotten and they need help now,” added Mr Culinan.
ICSA suckler chair Ger O’Brien has said that the necessary closure of all marts on account of Covid-19 is a blow to farmers and hopefully will be for a short period only. “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 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 of dealing on farm and need to be conscious of the risk of cheques bouncing.”
“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.”