It is essential that farmers are paid a fair price for their livestock after the closure of marts around Ireland due to the coronavirus risk, according to a Laois county councillor.
Cllr Thomasina Connell said the closure of marts is an unfortunate although necessary measure in these unprecedented times.
In the context of these closures, the Portlaoise Municipal District councillor said the Department of Agriculture is working hard to find innovative solutions to as how we can best facilitate livestock sales which are ordinarily conducted in an auction ring format with many attending and gathering closely.
"Over the past number of weeks, marts across the country had made huge efforts to reduce attendance and invoked both hygiene measures and social distancing, however despite that, the National Public Health Emergency Team considered this a risk that needed to be addressed,’ she said.
"It is essential now, more than ever, that farmers are paid a fair price for their animals and that the orderly movement and traceability of meat products remains to the fore in our food supply chain.
"There is no doubt that the closure of the Marts presents huge challenges, but The Department of Agriculture is engaging with all relevant stakeholders to ensure that the trade of livestock is facilitated and maintained in a transparent and secure way.
"There is no one solution to replace the traditional mart auction system, however, we need to think outside the box and work together to come up with a method to continue our trade in livestock.
"In this current COVID-19 crisis, concerns of public health are to the fore, and The Department of Agriculture is engaging closely with The Department of Health to find an alternative here that meets the demands of the farming community and the stakeholders in the food supply chain," concluded the statement.