A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture has confirmed that it will allow marts to reopen to provide limited services.

The Department is to issue guidance to marts on a very limited range of essential services that comply with Government guidelines and do not require people to assemble.

These include measures to facilitate calf sales, weighing of livestock and brokerage services.

Marts were shut under restrictions announced by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last week to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Farm-to-farm trading was the only option for farmers to sell their cattle from midnight on Tuesday 24 March.


IFA president Tim Cullinan has welcomeded the measures.

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.

The opening of marts for animal movements has also been welcomed by ICOS, the main representative body for marts in Ireland.

ICOS livestock and environment executive Ray Doyle said: “ICOS thanks the Government for the understanding it has demonstrated of the specific needs of our farmers at this time.

It's a massive relief to marts and farmers

"While it is accepted that mart closures form an important element in the fight against COVID-19 in our communities, it is reasonable that a form of trading can still continue on the proposed restricted basis and this is also directly in the interests of animal welfare.

"The more that we can keep some element of economic activity ongoing in our rural communities, then the more likely it will be that they will be able to recover their livelihoods in the aftermath of the current emergency.”


Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, Clare Marts manager Martin McNamara said: "It's a massive relief to marts and farmers to know that we can play a role in animal movements.

"We've been inundated with calls all week from farmers wanting to know when we would be trading again. Farmers were anxious about selling at home as there is no guarantee of payment."

New arrangements

Ray Doyle outlined that, under the terms of the new arrangements, each mart will be required to prepare an operating protocol which must be approved by the Department of Agriculture.

He said the procedures, which had been proposed by ICOS, would typically include:

  • Marts using their databases to match sellers with potential buyers according to the type, weight, breed of animals for sale.
  • Ideally agreeing a price per kilo prior to a sale being finalised.
  • A delivery time to the mart would then also be agreed, including weighing into the Animal Identification & Movement System (AIMS) and the use of drop boxes for all relevant documentation.
  • Only mart staff would handle the animals.
  • The buyer and seller would not have contact with each other, but each would be able to observe the weighing data and the buyer would be able to view the animals from a distance prior to finalising the sale which would be completed electronically.
  • Full sanitisation protocols will also be in place and no members of the public or visitors will be permitted next nor near the mart premises at any time.
  • ICSA

    ICSA suckler chair Ger O’Brien said the decision to reopen marts for limited services means that marts can be used for delivering calves for sale and for weighing older cattle and sheep.

    “Farmers have to sell livestock for cash flow purposes. This is a critical time of year for many farmers who wish to sell calves or stores, especially now as the grass season takes off. Keeping marts operational, even in a reduced capacity, is essential.

    “Farmers are very frustrated that meat factories are cutting prices and we need every possible outlet for stock, including the live export trade,” he said.

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