Farmers have welcomed the decision by the Northern Ireland Livestock and Auctioneers’ Association to open livestock marts on a gradual basis from Monday.
Markets in the region closed voluntarily on the 23 March in response to health and safety concerns surrounding the spread of Covid-19.
Mart operators have trialled a number of successful online sales to enable livestock trading to continue and are now moving towards re-opening on a phased basis from Monday 27 April, with some restrictions in place.
Sellers will be asked to pre-book slots for their stock in advance of sales as part of precautionary measures, and bookings slots will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.
In welcoming the decision, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) said farmers are key workers and are continuing to provide food 'for all in very challenging circumstances'.
"Part of that food supply chain is the ability to trade and sell animals," a spokesperson said.
“Staff have maintained regular contact with mart operators over recent weeks and have been reassured that robust operational protocols will enable them to conduct business in a manner that is safe for staff, farmers and buyers and adheres to social distancing requirements.
“DAERA therefore welcomes the decision to recommence sales of primestock, cull animals and store stock on a gradual basis from week commencing 27 April."