Mart closures hammer blow for Fermanagh’s farmers

AS marts cancelled livestock sales farmers here have been forced to hold onto cattle and sheep longer than normal. Aside from that, the temporary closure of marts has removed a social outlet for many farmers. 
Enniskillen Ulster Farmers Mart announced it was temporally suspending sales toward the end of March. A statement released notified the public that their safety was a top priority and the move was part of a corporate decision “in light of the very serious Covid-19 pandemic.”
Commenting Belleek councillor John Coyle said, “Wednesday or Thursday is a day out from the farm for a sheep or suckler cow/beef farmer. The other aspect is that those travelling from outlying rural areas may bring their wives or partners into Enniskillen and they often go shopping. We talk so much about rural isolation and the marts in Enniskillen and Lisnaskea are focal points for the farming community. 
“We have a lot of cattle dealers who come to Enniskillen to buy cattle and we hope that when this is over that will continue. We also hope that the closure won’t last very long, but with coronavirus we have to take every precaution that we can to prevent the spread. 
“Fair play to Enniskillen mart for protecting their patrons when they do use the mart as obviously they don’t want anything to happen to them. 
“They have felt the best way to do this is by cancelling sales at the minute.” 
Cllr Coyle, pictured below, remarked that with the mart closed for an unknown period of time there would undoubtedly begin to be animals ready from beef farms for slaughter. 
“Animals are also needed to replenish beef farm stocks but farmers may find themselves having to hold on to animals a bit longer than they normally would. That then means there is restricted cash flow in some circumstances.”
The agricultural community is reacting to the pandemic by exploring new methods of selling cattle. Just this week approximately 150 lots of cattle were sold via the online platform Livestock Live from Carnaross mart not far from the Cavan border in Co Meath.

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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