Donegal County Councillor Donal Mandy Kelly is calling on the government to class marts as an essential service so they can open as normal during this crucial trade season.
The Letterkenny-Milford Fianna Fáil councillor, who is a farmer by trade, said online trading is not a profitable solution for everyone in the agricultural community. While mart managers have taken necessary measures to ensure attendees’ safety during the pandemic, Cllr Kelly said they should be allowed to reopen with the same strict guidelines in place during Level Five.
Cllr Kelly told Donegal Daily: “As we all seen over the weekend although this online bidding is a great alternative to help farmers throughout the country to sell and buy livestock it is also not a bullet proof alternative. We have already witnessed that the technology can and has failed on several occasions whether it is down to various places not having a strong enough wifi service or just an overload on the software.
“There are a lot of farmers at present sitting with livestock which they can’t sell due to having no belief in the online bidding and to be honest I don’t blame them.
“It’s not only farmers that are suffering here it is also the mart staff, the management and the whole agriculture sector but also the livestock themselves.”
Cllr Kelly said he has seen first-hand how marts throughout the country have followed strict guidelines throughout this pandemic and implemented every measure that was asked of them.
“A lot of effort and expense has gone into this by mart managers to ensure the safety of all who attends,” he said.
“Farming is vital to the economy on this island,” Cllr Kelly said, as he issued a plea to the Government to class all marts throughout the country as an essential industry.
“For not only is this causing frustration and the value of livestock to decrease dramatically but it is also going to have a long term effect on farmers due to mental health issues etc.. I can see the effects this is having on people already due to the phone calls I have been receiving over the last number of days,” Cllr Kelly continued.
“I want the Government to act fast and act now to let all marts continue as an essential business as I can tell you it is essential that the government make this happen.”