Livestock marts urge social distancing to avoid future disruption

Livestock markets have asked for 'continued understanding' from farmers as vendor restrictions relax
Livestock markets have asked for 'continued understanding' from farmers as vendor restrictions relax

Farmers attending livestock marts have been reminded to maintain social distancing around pens and rings amid fears of a second spike and future disruption.

The rules on vendors attending livestock sales at ringside are being steadily eased, following ongoing discussions between industry officials and Defra.

Limited numbers of vendors are now permitted ringside, provided all Covid-19 social distancing measures are adhered to.

The Livestock Auctioneers’ Association (LAA) has now asked for 'extra understanding' given the 'inherent difficulties' of maintaining safe distances at marts.

Chris Dodds, LAA executive secretary said there was a 'limit' as to how many people can be safely accommodated ringside and pen side.

"We ask farmers to work with us as we gradually advance towards re-opening our markets to a greater extent,” he said, adding that customers must abide by social distancing measures.

"We are asking vendors to be understanding and appreciative of the need to maintain compliance with the latest government guidelines,” he added.

The LAA is working alongside Defra and the Welsh government to deliver procedures to enable greater market access ahead of the crucial autumn sales.

“We are working diligently ahead of the backend sales season. We know many more vendors will want to be ringside at this crucial time during the sales programme.

"We are looking at solutions to accommodate them, as the situation evolves,” Mr Dodds said.

But the LAA warned against 'complacency' and encouraged vendors to protect their own health and minimise the risk to others.

It comes as meat and food processing plants continue to deal with Covid-19 outbreaks, resulting in temporary closures and disruption.

Mr Dodds said while livestock marts have a priority for public health, the knock-on effects for marts having to temporarily close would have 'severe implications'.

He highlighted LAA fears of a second virus spike and the impact it would have on the autumn sales programme.

“We will keep our customers fully informed of developments, and we encourage the continued co-operation of our customers as we navigate these on-going challenges,” he added.