The future for some marts and farmers who are selling stock right now, in areas of poor broadband coverage is grim due to the Level 5 restrictions coming into force on Wednesday night, Independent TD Marian Harkin has said.
The comments were made following a letter to Government, outlining the significant challenges now faced by buyers, sellers and marts.
Harkin said: “I have spoken to a number of mart managers and many farmers, who are especially concerned about very poor broadband coverage around certain marts, particularly in the west of Ireland.”
Revenue for towns
The Independent TD said some farmers are not at ease with the technology needed to participate in online sales leading to limited participation, as weanling trade swings into action.
It will be the death knell for some of those towns
“This is the busiest time of the year in many marts in the west and northwest when weanlings are sold onto finishers, many of whom come from outside the region.
“Many rural towns partly rely on the mart as a source of revenue for local businesses and if marts are unable to operate sustainably, it will be the death knell for some of those towns, as well as a severe blow to cattle and sheep production locally.”
Harkin has warned that many farmers are now potentially facing lost sales, lost opportunities to buy and the loss of a local mart, as a result trading difficulties.
“There is the option to temporarily erect cubicles around the ring to further enhance safety measures and marts are willing to do whatever is necessary to ensure a viable continuation of the trade.
“The Minister for Agriculture needs to pay special attention to marts with poor broadband coverage and propose immediate solutions.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on rural and community development Claire Kerrane has said there has to be due consideration for farmers who are in rural areas where the broadband infrastructure is simply not there.
“We need to support farmers and their families now more than ever and therefore I have asked for there to be limited access for buyers in our marts.
“The move online is welcome and for some farmers, it suits them as it worked well previously. However, the reality is many farmers have no access to a computer let alone broadband.”