Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic the Livestock Market Stakeholder group has met regularly to ensure Livestock Markets can continue to operate in a manner that is safe for staff, farmers and buyers.
Key to this has been adherence to a robust operational protocol that was agreed by all stakeholders. This protocol is reviewed every two weeks to determine as and when relaxations to the operational rules can be made.
Over recent weeks breeding stock sales have been permitted and it has now been agreed that sellers of breeding stock can attend to see their animals being sold. Sellers will only be permitted onto the Mart premises for the short period when their animals are being sold through the auction ring and must leave immediately after their animals are sold.
The stakeholder group are working on a protocol that would safely allow all sellers to represent their animals at the sale and these measures will be introduced when it is safe to do so. At present, sellers of all non-breeding stock must leave the Mart after their animals are unloaded.
A Spokesperson for the Livestock Market Stakeholder Group said: “We are approaching a critical time in the farming calendar when farmers rely on Livestock Markets for the sale of their breeding and stores animals. It is therefore vital that everyone within the farming community works together to ensure the protocol is followed to ensure we prevent any new cases of COVID-19. This could ultimately lead to an increase in restrictions and reversal of the good progress made to date.
“However, social distancing and other precautions remain in place and it is still the Health and Safety Executive’s guidance that Marts should minimise the number of people allowed on site.”
Notes to editors:
- Members of the Livestock Market Stakeholder Group include; Northern Ireland Livestock Auctioneers Association, Ulster Farmers Union, Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association, Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland and DAERA.
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