Market protocols must be upheld by everyone to ensure sales continue, says UFU

Tuesday, 28 July, 2020

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) says it’s essential that farmers follow the strict coronavirus (COVID-19) guidelines that have been put in place by livestock markets to ensure they remain open as the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) could order their closure at any stage. In recent days, several clusters have been pinpointed across Northern Ireland (NI) resulting in the closure of many businesses and sports facilities, therefore it is critical that everyone obeys market protocols to keep themselves safe, and so live selling and buying can continue.

UFU president Victor Chestnutt said, “Marts are a vital route for farmers to sell stock and trade has been doing well recently. Prices are reasonable and the reopening of marts across the country has had a big impact. Farmers are receiving a good return for their stock and we want this to continue but farmers attending the mart need to be sensible and ensure they are following the COVID-19 protocols at all times. There is no room for error at this stage of the pandemic as we have seen how easily a cluster can happen and the consequences of it with the immediate closing of facilities.

“Marts are providing PPE to protect their staff who are working in close proximity with farmers who have travelled from various local areas. To help protect the market staff who have returned to work to keep things in the farming industry moving and farmers, extra caution and a common sense approach needs to be taken. Sellers at the mart should make their way home as soon as their livestock are sold to help prevent large crowds forming, as should those who have purchased stock. As well as this, everyone needs to continue social distancing and washing their hands. The last thing any of us wants is the closure of marts again, this would be a disaster and would be a huge step back for the farming industry. We have all been adjusting to this new normal during the pandemic as best as we can and we need to keep things progressing. We all look forward to the day when marts can be a social gathering place again.”