Brexit casts its shadow over one of the last marts of the year


Hundreds of farmers attended the finale of Raphoe Mart's season last Friday
Hundreds of farmers attended the finale of Raphoe Mart's season last Friday
Mart manager Ann Harkin

Kathy Donaghy

There was a festive atmosphere at Raphoe Mart and fatstock cattle sale as hundreds of farmers from all over Donegal and further afield gathered for the finale of the mart's year.

Chocolate 'Roses' sat in bowls in the office and mart staff practised carols for an upcoming carol service during a lull in the day's proceedings.

Inside the mart, hundreds of farmers - some with their families - looked over the impressive selection of animals for sale and on show. Many stood leaning over gates glad to be catching up with old friends.

Mart manager Ann Harkin says there's always a great atmosphere at the December show, but admits Brexit is casting its shadow this year.

Mart manager Ann Harkin
Mart manager Ann Harkin

He says they have seen a big decline in purchases from buyers in Northern Ireland this year and Ms Harkin puts it down to the uncertainty about the future.

"I don't think there's any business out there that's as much regulated as the marts. We're being dictated to, and Brexit will do that, too. I think the majority of farmers don't want Brexit to happen.

"I think there wasn't enough discussion at the beginning. (British prime minister) Mrs May is doing her best under the circumstances," says Harkin.

Some 190 animals were at the mart, and the mart was open from 7.30am and would stay open until the last animal left the yard late that night.

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Necessary cash

Ms Harkin says the mart brings in necessary cash for farmers. "They are expected to produce top-quality stock. Bord Bia and supermarkets want that but farmers can't do that with nothing. What they make today - that's their income. It's not a weekly wage they're getting.

They have stock to feed and diesel to buy. People talk disgustingly about farmers. They forget the farmer is the backbone of Ireland. Britain is forgetting that, too. They need their farmers," she says.

Samuel Carmichael from Moneymore, Co Derry, who was judging the animals at Friday's show, said he was very impressed by the animals on show in Raphoe. It was his first time there and he explained that what he was looking for was "style, flesh and ability for butchering", what he called "a finished animal".

Joshua Miller from Letterkenny was proud that his animal, a Belgian blue steer called Tyson had won third place in his baby class. Tyson, wearing a yellow rosette, stood quietly while his owner, who pledged to keep him for another year, buffed his hair.

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