Livestock auctioneers say autumn sales will go ahead this year.
The Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland (IAAS) – the body representing livestock markets, valuers and auctioneers across Scotland – says the format of the sales will depend on Covid-19 restrictions at the time.
IAAS executive director Neil Wilson said the association was working with national and local governments to develop plans to safely conduct the sales.
“The main limiting factor is the two-metre distancing requirement,” said Mr Wilson.
“But as a critical infrastructure sector, we are working with authorities to see if we can reduce this to one metre, which would allow a limited number of sellers into marts and increase the number of buyers around the ring.”
He said IAAS was also working to find a way of safely operating sales at island auction marts, or finding a way to bring island stock to the mainland for sales.
“There is strong will on all sides to ensure these sales go ahead but there are significant hurdles to overcome,” said Mr Wilson.
The hurdles include the risk of buyers bringing Covid-19 to island communities and the implications of reduced ferry services to ensure on-board social distancing.
He said IAAS was also working with marts to help them develop technological solutions to aid the sales process.
These include online sales catalogues, the option to buy stock online remotely, and live-streaming a sale in a nearby ring to allow more buyers in the mart to buy animals.
“We’re also talking to a technology company about app development,” added Mr Wilson.
“Building on an existing app already used in other sectors to keep people safe, the app might electronically sign farmers in and out of marts, send alerts to wash hands and ask people to move out of crowded areas.”