ICSA sheep chairman, Sean McNamara, has said sheep farmers are facing enormous difficulties as a result of the current Level 5 restrictions at marts and has called on Donegal TD and Agriculture minister, Charie McConalogue to urgently revisit the matter.
“Sheep farmers need to be able to make informed decisions around the stock they buy in. These decisions are based on physical inspections of lambs and judgement calls around fitness to kill.
"You cannot buy lambs without handling them. None of this is possible with online sales,” he said.
“Sheep farmers have been put at a severe disadvantage as it is simply not possible to properly evaluate stock online. We cannot continue with a situation whereby trade is being stifled to such an extent that farmers are unable to farm.
"Primary producers are a vital part of the food chain and they must be afforded the ability to continue to conduct their businesses,” he said.
Mr McNamara said apart from the difficulties with evaluating lambs online there is a wider issue of being able to access the sales at all.
“The lack of broadband reliability is wreaking havoc, but the age demographic of sheep farmers is also an issue. By and large sheep farmers are that bit older and not as robust when it comes to trading online and allowances must be made for this.
"We have to keep our businesses going and greater flexibility will have to be shown around allowing limited numbers into marts for sales,” he said.
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