The Livestock Auctioneers’ Association (LAA) has called for the need for understanding and a sensible approach from their clients, as the rules on vendors attending livestock sales at ringside are steadily eased, following on-going discussions with Defra and the Welsh Government.
While limited numbers of vendors are now permitted ringside, provided all social distancing measures are adhered to, the LAA has asked for extra understanding, given the inherent difficulties of maintaining safe distances around the sale pens and rings, and fears of future disruption.
“There is a limit as to how many people can be safely accommodated ringside and pen side, and we ask farmers to work with us as we gradually advance towards re-opening our markets to a greater extent,” says Chris Dodds, LAA executive secretary.
“We need customers to operate to, and abide by, the continuing social distancing measures in place. We are asking vendors to be understanding and appreciative of the need to maintain compliance with the latest Government guidelines,” he adds.
The LAA is working hard, 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,” says Mr Dodds. “We know many more vendors will want to be ringside at this crucial time during the sales programme, and we are looking at solutions to accommodate them, as the situation evolves.”
The LAA warns against complacency, with vendors encouraged to protect their own health and minimise the risk to others.
“Unfortunately, we have recently seen examples of confirmed coronavirus outbreaks and positive tests within meat and food processing plants, resulting in their temporary closure or disruption to their businesses,” adds Mr Dodds.
“Our priority is of course public health, but equally we do not want to see the knock-on effects of marts having to temporarily close, or indeed, farmers put on a 14 day self-isolation, due to failures to minimise risks.”
The LAA fears that a second virus spike may have severe implications for the autumn sales programme. Therefore, sales will continue to be restricted by social distancing in some form until the situation and Government guidance changes sufficiently.
Mr Dodds concludes, “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.”