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Calls for relaxation of ANC rules, so farmers aren't forced to buy cattle at marts

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16/03/2020

Trying to stop the spread of Coronavirus.........Farmers wear protective gloves at the sales ring at Tuam mart. Photo: Ray Ryan

16/03/2020 Trying to stop the spread of Coronavirus.........Farmers wear protective gloves at the sales ring at Tuam mart. Photo: Ray Ryan

16/03/2020 Trying to stop the spread of Coronavirus.........Farmers wear protective gloves at the sales ring at Tuam mart. Photo: Ray Ryan

Calls have been made for a relaxation of stocking rate rules under the Areas of Natural Constraints scheme so farmers will not need to attend marts to stay compliant.

ICOS also said it is asking the Department to implement immediate practical measures to ease the capability of marts to comply with the Government’s COVID-19 measures.

“If marts can spread out their usual peak spring sales it will greatly assist with ensuring compliance.

"This means reducing the retention period for Area of Natural Constraint Payments from 7 to 5 months. This measure would allow farmers a longer timeframe to purchase the animals needed to comply with the stocking density requirements of the scheme, greatly assist their economic viability and avoiding the compression of sales into a short timeframe in the marts," ICOS Livestock and Environment Executive Ray Doyle said.

Marts will continue to operate, in line with Government guidelines, as long as they can successfully comply with social distancing rules and the maximum 100 person limit on attendees, ICOS has stated following consultation with the Department of Agriculture, Food and The Marine.

"As noted by An Taoiseach in his address last night, it is clear this situation will last for many months, and well beyond the current period to 29th March. As this will be the new operating reality for marts, we must strictly enforce methods of operating within the safety parameters laid down by the Government or marts will need to close.

"But, this will be an individual decision for mart boards in the best interests of the country first, shareholders, customers, employees and all extended families involved," Doyle said.

He said continuing to trade is a real challenge for marts and no one wants the responsibility of creating an environment which may lead to someone being infected.

"Farming families need marts to enable them to earn a living and supply much-needed cash, but not to jeopardise anyone else in the process. This will be difficult and will result in significant long term changes to the way we are conducting our business.”

“We further reiterate that only buyers and sellers of livestock will be permitted to attend the marts and controls are in place regarding numbers attending. At this time, social visitors and particularly children or vulnerable people must stay away from the marts until further notice is given. Everyone needs to co-operate with any and all instructions given in mart centres as we all need the marts to continue trading during this busy spring period, but in a safe way and one which will not add to the spread of COVID-19," he said.

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