Coronavirus: NI to begin phased opening of livestock markets

Livestock markets in Northern Ireland will reopen to farmers from Monday (27 April) as part of a gradual lifting of Covid-19 lockdown measures.

Marts across the province closed voluntarily to farmers on 23 March as the coronavirus pandemic worsened.

See also: Coronavirus: Applying for farm support schemes

As cases of Covid-19 are continuing to emerge, the Northern Ireland Livestock and Auctioneers Association (NILAA) said re-opening would be on a phased basis, with some restrictions continuing.


Numbers for sales will be limited and there will be a requirement for sellers to book slots for livestock entries.

Bookings slots will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Sellers will still not be allowed to enter the sale ring or office and will instead be asked to drop off stock.

Once stock is sold, sellers will be informed of the price achieved as quickly as possible.

Buyer numbers will also be limited in the sale ring to ensure social-distancing measures can be maintained.

Only buyers who have registered ahead of a sale will be allowed to attend.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Daera) said its officials were satisfied the measures were robust and welcomed the planned reopening.

“Farmers are key workers and are continuing to provide food for us all in very challenging circumstances. Part of that food supply chain is the ability to trade and sell animals,” a Daera spokesman said.

The department has been reassured that robust operational protocols will enable mart operators to conduct business in a manner that is safe for staff, farmers and buyers, he added.

“Daera, therefore, welcomes the decision to recommence sales of primestock, cull animals and store stock on a gradual basis from the week commencing 27 April.”