In a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus, Manitoba’s livestock auction marts have closed to the general public.
“This difficult decision was made by the Manitoba Livestock Marketing Association in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety of their member’s employees, customers and service providers,” states a news release from the Manitoba Livestock Marketing Association.
As of noon March 23, auction marts are only allowing essential personnel on site, including market staff required to operate the sale, order buyers and livestock inspection personnel, states the release. Others, such as truckers and consignors, will not be allowed in the auction markets, including the sales ring and the office areas. Auction markets will mail producer cheques after the sale. Truckers delivering and picking up livestock will be required to get their information at the loading docks.
However, Manitoba’s livestock auction markets will continue to operate live cattle auctions and provide marketing services, the release notes. The association is also encouraging everyone to practice physical distancing of two metres.
Many livestock sales offer online viewing and bidding platforms, and the pandemic has already driven many buyers online. Producers interested in bidding online are encouraged to sign up early. Those in rural areas should also ensure multiple devices aren’t connected to the Internet during the sale, as that may overwhelm the producer’s connection.
After a Tuesday morning meeting, the Livestock Marketers of Saskatchewan (LMS) had decided not to close auction market doors entirely to the public, at least at this time. The association is encouraging auction marts to follow Saskatchewan Health Authority recommendations, including around required physical distance between people, limiting the number of people in a room and changes to food services.
“They are also well aware that regulations and directives are changing daily and monitoring it closely,” said Adele Buettner, executive director of the association, via email. “As with many of us, top of mind for our LMS members is the health and safety of their staff, customers and our communities.”
The Livestock Markets Association of Canada has released emergency response recommendations to all auction markets, buying stations and assembly yards to curtail COVID-19. The association notes that federal, provincial and municipal laws should take precedence over its own recommendations.