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Farm union hails phased reopening of Northern Ireland marts

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The Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) has welcomed the gradual reopening of livestock markets after sales started yesterday with restrictions in place

The Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) has welcomed the gradual reopening of livestock markets after sales started yesterday with restrictions in place

The Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) has welcomed the gradual reopening of livestock markets after sales started yesterday with restrictions in place

The Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) has welcomed the gradual reopening of livestock markets after sales started yesterday with restrictions in place.

The Northern Ireland Livestock and Auctioneers' Association took the decision to close down the marts last month amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The gradual reopening of operations follows successful online sales.

UFU president Ivor Ferguson said the organisation was supportive of the decision by mart operators not to reopen for traditional sales.

The protocols have allowed a phased reintroduction of sales where buyers can be present on a limited basis for particular categories of livestock.

"Individual marts will be publicising their own plans and the situation is to be kept under ongoing review," said Mr Ferguson.

"Marts have also explored using video sales and some have already begun using a video alternative to conduct sales online as well as facilitation of arrangements between individual sellers and buyers."

Mr Ferguson added that it was the responsibility of all within the industry to implement the operational protocols to ensure the safety of staff, sellers and buyers.

The Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs also welcomed the decision and stated that farmers are continuing to provide food in "very challenging circumstances".

"Farmers, like all businesses, are facing financial difficulties as a result of Covid-19," said the department.

"Being able to trade again at the marts will provide much needed cash flow."

Belfast Telegraph