Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) president Colm O’Donnell has pointed out that if off-licences can remain open despite the linkbetween alcohol and coronavirus cases, then socially-distanced ringside buyers in marts should be permitted.
He’s calling on the Government to review the situation following an IT glitch which saw the disruption or cancellation of up to 16 sales on Saturday.
Under current restrictions marts may only operate online sales, but one of the major software providers, LSL Auctions, experienced a server issue when a reported 30,000 people logged on to the system.
To deny these farmers the opportunity of getting the best price possible will negatively impact their income
“This issue needs to be recognized as an essential form of trading. If off-licences can stay open at a time where the chief medical officer recognizes the clear link between alcohol and the spread of the virus then there can be no reason to prohibit the ringside sale of livestock,” O’Donnell said.
“For many of our farmers especially those in the sheep and suckler sectors the sale of stock at this time of year is essential in providing the income that pays their bills and provides them with cashflow into next Spring.
“To deny these farmers the opportunity of getting the best price possible will negatively impact their income well into next year.”
O'Donnell also said he had every confidence that mart managers and their staff would be able to provide ringside buying while maintaining social distancing guidelines.