ALPA recommends non-essential visitors be excluded from saleyards

Agents urged to discourage non-essential visitors to saleyards

Coronavirus
SALEYARDS RESTRICTIONS: Some Victorian saleyards are moving to restrict the number of people, who can attend markets.

SALEYARDS RESTRICTIONS: Some Victorian saleyards are moving to restrict the number of people, who can attend markets.

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Victorian saleyard operators discussing how to deal with coronavirus.

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Victoria's saleyard operators have begun discussions on the impact of coronavirus, with one suggesting those seeing markets as a social event should think about staying home.

In the latest move, the Australian Livestock & Property Agents Association has recommended agents prohibit non essential participants in livestock sales from attending auctions.

"Put simply, this prohibition extends to members of the public until further notice," ALPA has told its members.

"We also insist that all visitors be required to sign a declaration prior to entering the saleyards entering their name, address and phone number.

"This will provide traceability of attendees."

ALPA has also requested auctioneers to make a clear and precise statement, before the sale starts, to all attendees to consider the health and safety of others, by maintaining at least one metre distance from others, there be no handshaking and proper hygienic practices be adopted.

It suggested agents film, or record, the statement.

ALPA also advised those most susceptible to the virus, such as the elderly, to reconsider attending sales.

The Australian Grand Prix, at Albert Park, Melbourne, was cancelled, after competitor McLaren withdrew from the event, when one of its team members tested positive to the virus.

Australia's chief medical officer Professor Brendan Murphy has also advised COAG (the Prime Minister, state premiers and territory chief ministers) to ban all public gatherings of more than 500 people.

Victorian Livestock Exchange managing director, Wayne Osborne said there had been discussions about the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) and how the organisation might deal with the issue.

VLE runs saleyards at Pakenham Leongatha and Warragul.

This morning, Mr Osborne said saleyards had been notified entry to markets would be restricted to:

  • Saleyard staff
  • Stock agents
  • Active buyers and
  • Transporters.

"We're asking that onlookers and the general public to not come to the markets," Mr Osborne said.

"People that do attend saleyard sites, will need to register at the site office.

"Obviously this is not a step we particular like taking, but we're sure that given the circumstances everyone appreciates why and recognises the need to do whatever we can to continue the operations of markets."

Read more: Coronavirus' has "known unknows" for Victorian agriculture

Close watch

Last week, ALPA chief executive Peter Baldwin said the organisation was keeping a close eye on the situation.

ALPA represents more than 97 per cent of rural agency businesses, throughout the country.

.Mr Baldwin said advice from government and health authorities would guide ALPA's approach.

"We will adopt compliance measures and play by the rules," he said.

"I think we have to have a common sense, measured, sober approach to this, a non-hysterical response."

He said the first people ALPA thought about were producers and staff.

"After the worst drought conditions and bushfires this has got us - just as everyone is trying to get back on their feet.

"We have to be very vigilant in our decision-making process."

AAM Investment Group (AAM), managers and operators of the Regional Livestock Exchange (RLX) network of livestock selling facilities, has announced what it said were minor, but important, management changes in response to COVID-19

This includes extending its online platform for remote sale-day participation, StockLive, across all sites and sales.

Viewing areas, using large digital screens, will also be established to reduce crowding in saleyard laneways and walkways.

AAM Managing Director, Garry Edwards, said the changes, which are in line with the latest advice of

the Federal Department of Health and state-based health authorities, were aimed at

protecting the health of anyone who visited the eight RLX sites, across eastern Australia.

"Our first priority is the health of our staff, users and visitors and we are proactively implementing

changes to reduce the risk of exposure whilst in attendance at our network of livestock facilities," Mr

Edwards said.

"We're adhering to the latest government advice and that means everyone implementing the highest

standards of personal hygiene, including washing hands thoroughly and avoiding unnecessary

interpersonal contact, and that anyone who is showing symptoms of illness stays at home and

accesses livestock sales through alternative means".

"There is absolutely no intention to cancel any sales at this point in time

"However we will implement the StockLive system of live-streaming and online bidding across all sales and sites to provide an effective and efficient remote participation alterative to physically attending events."

The StockLive system had been used by RLX over the past two years and had proven to be a simple,

and effective, platform for both vendors and buyers.

Additionally, 'viewing areas', utilising digital screens, would be made available at sites to allow vendors and interested parties to easily inspect animals presale, without causing crowding and congestion, and to

allow buyers easy access to laneways and walkways.

Business as usual

Australian Livestock Saleyards Association (ALSA) chairman Councillor Stuart McLean said the issue was on the organisation's agenda.

ALSA covers local government-owned, and run, saleyards.

"At this stage, we are continuing business as usual, until we get a direction otherwise," Cr McLean said.

"If people follow all the public warnings that are out there, we will be able to manage saleyards, at this point.

"But there could come a time when the process becomes different, and that needs to be revisited."

He said the ALSA executive had discussed rescheduling the annual conference, usually held in July or August.

"We are looking at all our options while keeping an open mind," he said.

'We will act responsibly."

Cr McLean acknowledged it was a health issue, and ALSA wanted to ensure all industry participants were safe.

"We will be guided, pretty much by advice that comes from government or officials, as to what we need to do.

"But, at the moment, it will be business as usual."

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