Written By:
Jennifer Shike
News Tags: Livestock Auctions

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic grows, livestock auction markets are under close watch. In an effort to keep these auctions functioning, the Livestock Marketing Association (LMA) is working with federal, state and local officials to ensure continuity of business while making public health a top priority. 

Many states are enforcing varied crowd size limits and are mandating restrictions on operations of cafés and other food services, the association said in a press release. LMA is working with markets on a case-by-case basis to help develop contingency plans as needed.

LMA suggests 10 strategies to help you prepare for and mitigate disease spread at your livestock auction market:

1.    Familiarize yourself with and follow rapidly changing local and state rules regarding assembly of crowds. 
2.    Work with your café operators to follow location-specific guidance which may include closure or offering to-go service only. 
3.    Update your website with instructions to customers and your plans for continued operation. 
4.    Utilize social media to share fact-based information and your plans for continued operations. 
5.    If you are in a situation where you need to limit crowd size, request that consignors deliver livestock and return home rather than remaining at the facility. 
6.    Offer consignors flexibility in picking up their checks if they can’t wait for the mail such as delivery or pick up from their vehicle while remaining in the parking lot. 
7.    Instruct employees or visitors exhibiting symptoms of illness to remain home and request that any employee or visitor who is a member of a population of heightened vulnerability to consider avoiding areas where people are gathering.
8.    Evaluate all options to utilize web broadcast or phone bidding.
9.    Provide ample opportunities for visitors and employees to wash hands following CDC best practices. 
10.    Clean and disinfect any commonly used areas more often, including restrooms, and keep well-stocked with soap, paper towels and hand sanitizer.

“LMA and our member auctions take this situation very seriously,” the association said in a release. “Human health is of great concern. Because LMA values the wellbeing of our members, their employees, consignors and buyers, we will remain in contact with and continue providing updates to our membership to help them navigate these trying times.”

To view the latest USDA public information notices, visit USDA AMS or USDA APHIS sites.