Following numerous phone calls from breeders this week and the problems experienced with Online systems in Marts around the Country today, I have made the following submission to the Minister for Agriculture this evening. Let’s hope this gets rectified as soon as possible, with some of the biggest Sales of the year set to take place over the coming weeks.
In recent days, I have been contacted by numerous farmers, our customers, regarding the decision to move all Marts to Online Sales only. To say they are distraught, angered, and frustrated would be an understatement. This is the time of year when they make their living when they sell their commercial stock, pedigree bulls and heifers. For anyone who knows how Marts operate, these new restrictions being imposed on them are simply unfair and unreasonable.
Many Marts still have no Online bidding facility in place, for numerous reasons, including poor Broadband. Marts that do have an Online bidding facility, have poor Broadband and are experiencing problems daily. I attended one Mart just last week where the Online system stopped working for a period and only for there were ringside buyers, the Sale would have been stopped. There are also the issues of sellers not being contactable when rang to accept the price being offered for their animals. This will and has already caused legal action between Marts and Sellers. Some older buyers simply cannot bid online and are as such being prevented from making the necessary purchases to maintain their business and way of life. It is next to impossible to run a Sale in certain parts of the Country with Online bidding only, yet Marts are being forced to do this. Whoever agreed to these terms does not understand how Marts operate, or they do not have the best interests of Marts and Farmers at heart. Today, online systems across the Country crashed, leaving Marts at a standstill, and Cattle standing in pens for hours.
Marts have worked tirelessly in recent months to ensure everyone’s safety, by implementing the measures recommended to them to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Now they are being told that no buyers are allowed around the sales ring, but GAA games can continue with 30 players on a field. Weddings and Funerals of up to 25 people can take place. Yet Marts can’t even have 15 people spread out around a sales ring. How many outbreaks of Covid 19 has there been in Marts to date? How many outbreaks have there been because of celebrations after GAA games? These are questions that need to be addressed.
I am calling on you Minister to stand up now and do the right thing. Give Marts back the responsibility of ensuring they are run in a safe manner. Allow them to have a minimum number of buyers around the Sales ring to facilitate the trading of Livestock. There is no doubting that Marts are essential for the trading of Livestock and most importantly the production of food. They must continue. I sincerely hope common sense will prevail here.
Nevan Mc Kiernan,