Auction marts develop operational plans to stay open through COVID-19

Both provincial and federal governments have been working diligently on a daily basis to keep Canadians abreast of any changes to recommended protocols. For livestock auction markets across Canada, the restriction on the number of people allowed to attend due to social distancing practices is a challenge, but not defeat.

Although governments have not laid down specific rules for auction markets, based on conversations with several markets across the country, the industry in working to address concerns proactively.

The Beef Cattle Research Council today released a list of recommendations for cattle sales during COVID-19. The recommendations are those of the Livestock Markets Association of Canada, the Canadian Beef Breeds Council and the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, made through consultation of the Public Health Agency of Canada website.

Cowtown Livestock Exchange Inc of Maple Creek, Saskatchewan has this notice on its website to clearly outline how it is dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak.

Already, Stewart Stone of Heartland Livestock in Regina, Saskatchewan stated to RealAgriculture that “we have made sure our employees have stayed informed on proper hygiene and what not to do.

“We have continued with sales this week but we are quickly moving to limit the attendees to only people that must be there to make the sale a success.”

Many cattle-feeders have said they appreciate the auction marts taking COVID-19 prevention seriously and that limiting attendance to staff, producers, buyers and brand inspectors should not be too difficult, and would receive little push back given the circumstances.

“Sales barns are indicating that they are still operating,” says a spokesperson for Ontario Sheep. “With a focus on keeping their staff healthy, we recommend dropping off your animals and return home. Many of the sales barns are limiting their facility to buyers and sellers, with no public access. Some are asking that you allow them to mail your cheque instead of coming to pick it up.”

There will be larger challenges for traditional spring farm sale auctions based on the higher attendance levels, but two auction marts featuring sales this spring spoke with RealAgriculture about developing their proper course of action based on government protocols.

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