Farm Ireland

Saturday 19 January 2019

Mart restrictions will cause 'a fiasco'

Cattle being unloaded at the mart. Picture: Pat Moore
Cattle being unloaded at the mart. Picture: Pat Moore

Martin Ryan

Limerick IFA call on national executive to reject new measures

New restrictions which limit cattle viewing to a designated 30 minutes are not practical and will change the nature of marts, farmers have warned.

The restrictions were introduced on safety grounds due to a number of accidents at marts. Soaring insurance premiums for the marts were also a factor in the introduction of the tighter controls.

A resolution tabled by Limerick IFA executive last week called on the association’s national executive to reject the new measures and negotiate for what they described as “a more balanced approach”.

Farmers told the meeting that it was impossible to expect buyers to view 2,500-3,000 head of cattle at a big sale in a few minutes.

However, Michael Spellman of the ICOS marts’ committee told the Farming Independent that abandoning the restrictions was not an option for the marts.

“The marts have been left with no choice; because of the accidents and claims they couldn’t afford insurance, if they were able to get it at all,” he said.

Mr Spellman added that cattle have become more aggressive, because of reduced handling, and the public using marts more litigious. But he accepted that the situation may be reviewed before sales hit their autumn peak.

Under the new restrictions, the marts have been advised to cease intake of cattle at 10.30am to allow for viewing for a period of 30 minutes, with intake resuming at 11. Cattle penned after 11 cannot be viewed prior to the sale.

“There are so many things that have to be watched now when an animal comes into the sales ring, the last thing that you need to be trying to do is size up the cattle as well,” Eddie Scanlan of the IFA’s national livestock committee told the Limerick meeting.

“If the marts are not careful they will end up being nothing more than weighing facilities for farmers trading cattle outside of the mart rings.

“The day farmers go out to a mart and are not allowed to look at cattle they will be buying a pig in a poke”.

Well-known livestock farmer, John O’Shea added: “I am 60 years buying cattle in marts and if they go ahead with this system it is going to be a fiasco.

“Trying to buy cattle unless you can see the cattle beforehand will be a total nightmare.”

The 30-minute viewing is already in use at Roscommon, where mart manager Maura Quigley said there was resistance at the start, but the necessity and possible consequences for the mart was explained to farmers and the restriction is going to remain.

George Candler, livestock auctioneer at Kilkenny Mart, said that viewing has been restricted and the overhead walks are being used by farmers to see what cattle are on offer at a sale.

Clare Marts is “reviewing” the situation at its sales centres, while Kanturk Mart has discontinued all viewing of livestock prior to sales.

“There was plenty of flak from the farmers. I explained why it had to be done and as far as I can see it is working and its business as usual – without the viewing,” said manager Seamus O’Keeffe.

Indo Farming