More saleyards move on coronavirus

Council run saleyards the latest to react to COVID-19

Coronavirus
SALEYARDS RESTRICTIONS: Scenes like this are set to become rarer, at Victoria's saleyards, as more operators restrict entry.

SALEYARDS RESTRICTIONS: Scenes like this are set to become rarer, at Victoria's saleyards, as more operators restrict entry.

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Council run saleyards have now implemented attendance restrictions.

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Nearly all Victoria's saleyards have now imposed strict attendance restrictions.

Australian Livestock Saleyards Association members are the latest markets to restrict sales to essential staff only.

Horsham Regional Livestock Exchange coordinator Paul Christopher said the weekly sheep and lamb sale this week ran without any issues, despite the yards being closed to the public.

The measures were announced by Horsham Rural City Council this week, to slow the spread of coronavirus.

"As per the restrictions, the sale was attended only by agents, buyers and transport operators," Mr Christopher said.

"We would like to thank the members of the public who heeded the calls not to be here.

"And we also thank the small number of people who arrived at the sale and co-operated with our request for them to not attend," he said.

Read more: ALPA recommends non-essential visitors be excluded from saleyards

ALSA's executive officer Mark McDonald said Horsham and Ouyen were among the saleyards, where management had decided to restrict access.

He said only a handful of people had turned up at sales, having not heard of the restrictions.

"Hopfully, people will co-operate," Mr McDonald said.

It was unlikely the ALSA yards would register the names of participants, as that was deemed impractical, at this stage.

ALSA president Councillor Stuart McLean said the saleyard sector continue to provide its central role within the red meat supply industry, despite the escalation of the situation around escalating Covid-19.

"Currently all saleyards continue to provide access to their sites for the conduct of sheep and cattle sales," Cr McLean said.

" This is expected to continue in the future to ensure adequate food supply for retail outlets."

ALSA has contacted its membership base and other saleyard industry stakeholders in recent days to determine the status of the sector as the Covid-19 outbreak progresses.

Based on this feedback a number of saleyards had taken steps to ensure any exposure to the virus was minimised consistent with the advice of responsible authorities.

This includes restricting access to future sales to essential staff only and to provide on site signage to pass on the government messages regarding social distancing and personal hygiene.

Saleyards were being encouraged to continue to discuss potential changes to their sale arrangements with local stakeholders, such as transporters, agents and buyers, as the government response unfolded

This may include additional measures to be undertaken on site.

'We see the saleyard sector as an essential link in the red meat livestock marketing system and our feedback indicates that the broader industry supports the sector remaining open and operating to maintain food supply in the future".

ALSA will continue to monitor the situation and provide advice to members as changes occur.

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