IN light of the Coronavirus pandemic, the Livestock Auctioneers’ Association (LAA) has announced the implementation of additional security standards and restrictions.

Additional security standards, robust hygiene precautions and further market restrictions have been agreed and implemented over the last two days (Monday 23 and Tuesday 24 March).

The sale of prime stock, cull animals and store stock is still permitted, but sales of all breeding stock will cease immediately, and will not return for at least three weeks.

This category of sale includes, but is not limited to: dairy and beef breeding cattle, breeding sheep, ewes with lambs at foot and breeding pigs.

Ramping up previous advisory recommendations, it is now compulsory for all purchasers to register with the market, and only ‘known’ buyers will be given access. Where possible, buyers have been asked to ‘double-up’, with one person buying for multiple purchasers.

All potential gathering points such as refreshment cafes and mobile units will be closed, and social distancing will be enforced. Markets will not permit any more around the ring than the minimum two metre gap will allow.

Markets will keep a register of all those that attend sales, and at conclusion, buyers will be asked to enter the sales office in a manner that does not result in too many entering at any one time. Buyers will be asked to sanitise on entry to the market, and exit.

Markets will implement a ‘drop and go’ policy for all vendors, to prevent any sellers from entering the market. Vendors must deliver their animal to the loading docks, and remain in their vehicles while market staff unload the vehicles and take the animals to their pens.

Sale documentation must be collected by the market staff from the vendor's vehicle, and vendors will not be permitted to the market offices or pennage area for any reason. Once unloaded, the vendors’ vehicle must leave the mart site immediately.

Chris Dodds, executive secretary of the LAA said: “The LAA appreciates the support and understanding of our clients and operating member marts at this unprecedented time, but our priorities are to protect public health while still being able to supply the food chain.

“We appreciate these new measures create challenges, but it is important we work together to help deliver an efficient supply of livestock to the food chain, while protecting everyone from the virus.”

The LAA is holding daily teleconferences with Defra and the Welsh Assembly, and regular updates will follow.

READ MORE: Dartmoor is closed