Auction mart executives have thanked buyers, sellers and hauliers for their response to strict measures put in place to ensure trade can continue amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Customers have also praised the professionalism of staff in handling sales and queries, supported by the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland (IAAS).
Stringent steps have been taken at marts across the country following talks between IAAS and the Scottish Government to ensure the continued operation of livestock auctions, meaning the supply of quality produce to the food chain will be uninterrupted and cashflows to farmers and other primary producers maintained.
IAAS, the representative body for livestock markets, valuers and auctioneers across Scotland, issued guidelines to members on the public health procedures which must be enforced to help combat the spread of Covid-19.
These include limiting the numbers of people at marts for sales and set down the controls needed to ensure ringside buyers are at least two metres apart. They must also sign in and out of sites, with access controlled and offices also subject to social distancing measures.
Sellers or hauliers must drop-off stock for sale and then leave without going beyond designated loading and unloading areas. They are not allowed inside the marts. Only mart staff are allowed in penning areas. Rigorous handwashing is promoted.
Trade was reported as being healthy at many sales across the country on Thursday (March 26).
IAAS corporate member Craig Wilson Limited sold 525 store cattle at Ayr Auction Mart, with all classes selling well.
Craig Wilson Limited Managing Director Jim Craig said: “I would like to thank all of the buyers, sellers and my staff for acting as they have and for their support. Everyone can see the severity of the situation. The steps taken mean we can continue to hold sales. There was a good trade on Thursday – what we would have expected in normal times.
“We have been getting key messages out to farmers, including for people aged over 70 not to attend, and that really has got through.
“Our experience of foot and mouth means we know all too well about the importance of biosecurity.”
At Caledonian Marts, Stirling, another IAAS member, about 170 cattle – just over 100 prime and 60 OTM – went through the ring. After the surges seen across the board last week amid increased demand from butchers and wholesalers, trade there was also in-line with levels seen a fortnight ago.
Caledonian Marts Managing Director John Kyle said: “It was a different way to operate, but the buyers were there.
“We are very much open for business, albeit slightly differently. There’s still competition around the ring for buyers to buy stock.
“During foot and mouth auction marts were brought to a halt and farmers had to sell privately off the farms, sometimes just getting one offer and taking it. The difference here is that we have managed to stay open and keep competition there. That’s what we need. It keeps the live sales going, which is important for food supplies, as well as farmers, at this critical time.”
Auctioneers throughout Scotland are on-hand to support anyone with queries about getting their livestock to market and those seeking details about specific sales.
IAAS Executive Director Neil Wilson praised members, along with the entire livestock industry, for the urgency with which they have responded to the actions needed.
He said: “There has been great praise for the steps taken by marts. I know of buyers who say staff have been unbelievably professional, given the circumstances. Our members are grateful for the support of buyers, sellers and hauliers.
“We have worked hard to secure a workable solution so that we limit exposure to Covid-19 while also maintaining trade in the live ring, which is vital for farmers, the food chain and wider rural economy. We remain in close contact with the Scottish Government about the measures which have been implemented.”
Farmers delivering livestock to auction marts
- Deliveries made to marts as normal via livestock trailers/hauliers. Hauliers/farmers to unload livestock into pens beside loading bay. Farmer/haulier to leave premises.
- Mart staff to collect livestock from the loading bay pens and pen up in the mart.
- Mart staff collect required paperwork from driver across biosecurity line or via email (preferable) ensuring maximum social distance is maintained.
Buyers coming to auction marts to purchase livestock
- Any buyer must pre-register their attendance at any sale.
- Buyers must declare that they have not been in contact with a positive COVID-19 case nor have visited a high-risk area during the previous 14 days.
- Buyers to sign in and out of auction mart premises.
- Only pre-registered buyers will be allowed access to the mart.
- Buyers will be advised to keep a distance of 2 metres from each other around the auction ring. All rings have sufficient space to accommodate this spacing and marking of areas recommended.
- Suitable bio-security measures will be in place and available – hand washing facilities/hand gels/foot dips etc. Buyers will be expected to use these on entry and exit.
- No additional visitors will be admitted to the mart on sale days outside of key staff and registered buyers.
Removal of stock post auction
- Hauliers/farmers arrive at mart in normal manner; however, they are to remain in vehicles until loading bay space becomes available.
- Reverse to loading bays and, from a safe distance, inform the mart staff of consignment to collect.
- Mart staff to deliver livestock to pens beside loading bays and haulier/farmer should complete the loading of the lorry/trailer. Mart staff to share paperwork with driver as required across the biosecurity line. Mart staff to retain maximum social distance possible from vehicle driver.
- Haulier/farmer leaves the site.
- Complete closure recommended.