Agriculture Minister, ALMA welcome buyers, vendors to saleyards

The relaxed restrictions still require anyone attending saleyards to carry out social distancing and good hygiene practices. Photo: File
The relaxed restrictions still require anyone attending saleyards to carry out social distancing and good hygiene practices. Photo: File

The announcement that access to NSW saleyards has been restored for vendors and buyers has been welcomed by the state agriculture minister and the peak body representing livestock markets.

The relaxed restrictions still require anyone attending saleyards to carry out social distancing and good hygiene practices.

Many facilities have put in place measures to assist with social distancing.

Vendors were previously not permitted to attend livestock sales as part of a suite of restrictions recommended in the COVID-19 National Saleyards Protocols.

Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall and the Australian Livestock Markets Association both welcomed the announcement.

Mr Marshall said access to NSW saleyards will be restored for vendors and buyers, however, he will be watching closely to ensure the changes give everyone a 'fair go'.

"The announcement that more individuals will be allowed back into saleyards is a good start, however, operators must clarify whether in practice that means all vendors and buyers - no matter how big or small - can return," Mr Marshall said.

"I have heard concerns from many farmers that previous restrictions led to some individuals being unable to participate in the buying and selling of livestock."

In a media release, ALMA said the changes were necessary to ensure the safety of essential saleyard workers, plus the continuity of selling and the wider food supply chain and were agreed to by saleyard operators, agents, buyers, processors and producers in consultation with the Federal Government.

"The industry was and remains acutely aware of the immense challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to reduce the risk of exposure to and spread of COVID-19," ALMA President Ken Timms said.

"However, we're excited now to be in a position to invite vendors back to our facilities to take part in the action and vibrancy of sale day - albeit with new precautions in place."

Mr Timms said it was of utmost importance that competitive bidding in saleyards was able to continue.

The NSW Agriculture Minister said the proof will be in the pudding and that is why he has sought urgent assurances from industry that the practice of discriminating against smaller-scale producers will cease.

"Under the NSW Government's COVID-19 restrictions food, livestock and fibre auctions can continue to operate business as usual, so long as basic social distancing requirements are adhered to," Mr Marshall said.

"Therefore, there is no reason why saleyards should be imposing specific restrictions on different classes of buyers and sellers."

Mr Marshall said with some producers looking to re-stock following bushfires and drought it was critical that saleyards were truly open for business.

"Farmers looking to re-stock after drought and bushfires already have enough challenges to deal with. The last thing they need is additional hurdles getting in the way of them getting back to business," Mr Marshall said.

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