Payments, TB tests, exports to continue – Department

The Department of Agriculture has said it is committed to ensuring animal-related matters can continue to enable the business of farming to operate.

That includes payment processing, TB testing, animal welfare inspections, animal identification and passport issuing, BVD testing, controls at livestock marts and animal export certification.

Read the full story here.

Mart restrictions: 'no ticket, no in'

Skibbereen Mart in west Cork was among the first marts to implement the measures and while it caught some people off guard, they adapted quickly.

Tommy Moyles was at the sale and had a ringside seat to watch how it unfolded.

A ticket to gain access to the ring at Skibbereen mart. \ Tommy Moyles

Watch: Roscommon mart trading amid changed times

Amy Forde was at Roscommon mart on Friday and spoke to farmers about their reaction to the coronavirus threat.

Mart manager Maura Quigley outlined the action the mart is taking to both keep trade going and limit the virus transmission in this video.

European Commission makes billions available in pandemic

The EU Commission announced on Friday a series of measures intended to mitigate against the worst economic consequences of the coronavirus in member states.

Phelim O'Neill looks at what it is planning and how it could be relevant for agri-food business.

Macra cancellations

Macra na Feirme has announced that it is suspending all activities including events, competitions, face-to-face meetings and international travel until further notice.

“This is an unprecedented situation and it is imperative that we all play our role in helping government succeed in protecting the Irish public from Covid-19” said Macra na Feirme national president Thomas Duffy.

Milk dumping

The representative body for marts and co-ops is calling on the Government to relax the Organisation of Working Time Act to ensure that staff are available to cover for colleagues or farmers that have fallen ill and milk is collected from farms and processed.

EU moves to limit damage

The EU Commission announced a series of measures intended to mitigate against the worst economic consequences of the coronavirus in member states.

Demand soars for fresh meat and milk

Fresh meat and fresh milk orders have increased by as much 60% on standard orders as a result of panic-buying in retail outlets.

Fresh milk orders have increased by as much as 60%.

Overall, processors are not fearing shortages in the short term, but have expressed their biggest concern is around staff.

Read what meat and milk processors are saying here.

Relief milkers

Farm Relief Services (FRS) has confirmed that it will continue providing services to farmers.

“Personal hygiene and social distancing are key elements of the strategy to prevent further spread and we are advising all FRS operators to be extra vigilant on both,” FRS Network CEO Peter Byrne said.

“We ask all our farmer customers to please advise the FRS office and any FRS operator attending their farm if they, or any other family, had any contact with the virus.”

Byrne said they were monitoring the situation on a daily basis.

Veterinary services

The Veterinary Council of Ireland (VCI) has advised vets to take necessary precautions and follow HSE advice but at the current moment "there is no evidence to date to suggest that the virus can be transmitted to animals from humans."

The Veterinary Council of Ireland has advised its members to follow HSE advice, but it's still 'business as usual' for vets. / Philip Doyle

President of the VCI said that they would continue to review the situation but that it was essentially "business as usual".

Other vets have put in measures, such as Quinn's in Mohill who have asked farmers to ring in advance with their order to minimise their time on the premises or limiting their small animal practice services.

Agricultural education


University College Dublin (UCD) has postponed its examinations scheduled for March. There will be no face-to-face teaching or meetings on campus.

Students, including agricultural science students, have been informed that “teaching will resume on 23 March, but students will not return to campus and all learning material will be delivered using UCD's online platform Brightspace”.

UCD has also asked students on placement to only continue if they are comfortable doing so. For students due to leave on placement, they’ve asked that students do not travel to European countries or other countries affected by Covid-19.

Agricultural colleges to close

Teagasc have decided to close all of their agricultural colleges.

“Teagasc is making contingency arrangements to deal with closures and will be in direct contact with learners in this regard,” a spokesperson said.

It has also advised that all of its indoor events with over 100 people and outdoor events with over 500 people will be postponed.

Marts: 100-person limit in place

Marts are putting a limit on the number of people that can attend sales ringside, as concerns over the coronavirus outbreak grow.

The Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) has announced that mart sales should be limited to 100 people.

“The number of people attending individual mart ringsides at any one time will be limited to 100, which will be managed on a strict rotation system, ie using admission cards which will be rotated among patrons at the entrance/exit to the mart ringside or other such monitoring methods as devised by the mart,” ICOS said.

ICOS is advising children, social visitors and vulnerable people to stay away from marts.

Cork marts

As Cork Marts prepared for three sales in the county, its CEO Seán O’Sullivan outlined how the new 100-person limit will be operated and why it is important that marts remain open

Charolais sale

The Irish Charolais Cattle Society has 93 cattle catalogued for its spring premier sale, taking place on Saturday 14 March. Find out how it intend to manage the event.

Farmers on coronavirus

Following the announcement from An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that creches, schools and universities should close, with plans to limit crowds gathering together, farmers at the mart in Athenry all had concerns for their families and their farms. Here are some of their thoughts.

Coronavirus wipes almost €5bn off the value of Irish agri-food companies

Growing fears over the expected widespread outbreak of the coronavirus in Europe have led to almost €5bn being wiped off the value of Irish agri-food companies this week.

In recent days, shares in Kerry Group, Glanbia, Aryzta, Greencore, FBD, Total Produce and Origin Enterprises have all fallen sharply on stock markets.

Read more

Coronavirus wipes almost €5bn off the value of Irish agri-food companies

'Marts are not going to be a social event' – Cork Marts CEO

Thursday: how coronavirus shutdown is affecting farming