Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed is in talks with his EU counterparts about efforts to protect Europe's food supply. 

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One ahead of the meeting, Mr Creed said one of the things he will be looking for is support for the beef industry. 

"It's not confined to the beef sector, but that will be high in our priority of asks", he said. 

"Also the dairy sector as well. What we are looking at is a significant drop in price at farm-gate level. We will be looking for supports to ensure our farmers come through". 

The minister said this is not new territory for the EU and that there is already a framework in place for intervention. 

"I would imagine all member states are in this together", he said. "We will be looking for a very significant response from the [European] Commission". 

He said facilitating a continuation of trade through the expertise, contacts and buyer networks that the marts have is a primary objective now and they hope to facilitate that by the end of this week. 

The decision by the Government to ask all livestock marts to close from today was described as "disappointing".

The closures present huge issues in the farming sector, as farmers will have no outlets to sell cattle or sheep.

So far this year, more than one million calves have been born on Irish farms, almost 900,000 of them on dairy farms.

They need to be sold and the bulk of them need to be exported, so the decision to close the marts will have huge implications.

Sales are stalled and now efforts are under way to try to devise a system to sell cattle.

The Mart Managers of Ireland group is in discussions with the Department of Agriculture.

Both are trying to devise a system whereby the sale of cattle could be facilitated without the need for a live sale, or an organised event in mart facilities.

It is not ideal, but the need to sell animals and move stock is real.

Demand is also decreasing as the big meat plants try to deal with the widespread closure of fast foods chains and restaurants.

This evening, Minister Creed said that it may be possible to utilise mart facilities to assist with the sale of cattle and sheep despite their closure. He said "we are hopeful we can facilitate something that can facilitate the movements of cattle".

The Minister told RTÉ News, "all is not lost". Asked if marts should have been categorised as an essential service, he said the National public health advisory team had asked that marts be closed and he said Government needs to heed that advice.

Additional reporting Fran McNulty