Farmers told: “Ignore livestock markets at your peril” after 17.5% growth reported

Farmers have been called on to use livestock markets to sell their animals after the trade revealed a 17.5% increase in revenue.

The jump in revenue from 2010 to 2011 has been driven by a sharp rise in the price livestock is fetching at market, supported by an increase in the number of animals coming through.

Chris Dodds, Executive Secretary of the Livestock Auctioneers Association, said the figures represented a huge success for the industry, adding that farmers should “ignore livestock markets at their peril”.

“There are many reasons farmers should be using the markets to sell their stock, not least the higher prices they are getting compared with sales to abattoirs. Perhaps a more fundamental reason is the existence of the markets themselves.

“Markets are the only vehicle through which a fair price can be set. We’ve seen what’s happened in some sectors of agriculture where prices are controlled by the supermarkets. The sectors that are doing well are the ones that sell at auction,” he said.

“The advantage of the market for producers is that it is transparent, competitive bidding. At the end of the day if they don’t like the price, they can take their animals home. A real benefit for farmers is that they can have the confidence that they will be paid promptly, which they don’t get elsewhere,” he said.

Total sales for England and Wales for 2011 were £1.81 billion, against a total of £1.54 billion in 2010. Turnover in England was £1.48 billion, representing a 17.9% increase on 2010, and turnover in Wales was £330 million, a 16% increase on 2010’s figure.

The highest rise in turnover was for cattle which in 2011 in England and Wales was £1.02 billion, compared with £0.86 billion the previous year, representing an increase of 18.3%. Turnover from sheep sales was £775.4m in 2011, a 16.7% rise on the previous year’s figure of £664.4m. Pig sales at auction rose by 5%, with an increase from £13.8 million to £14.5 million.

The total number of cattle sold in England and Wales for 2011 was 1.68 million, an increase of 15.7% on 2010. Just over 10 million sheep were sold, compared with 9.7 million in 2010, an increase of 3.7%. The number of pigs sold increased by 6.9% from 159,000 to 170,000.

The highest percentage category increase of turnover recorded was in cull cows, with England seeing a 38.6% increase year on year from £90.3 million to £125 million, and Wales increasing by 33.6%, from £12.6 million to £16.8 million.

There were marked differences in some categories in terms of percentage of turnover performances between England and Wales. England saw a 35% increase in dairy cattle, while sales of dairy cattle fell in Wales by 9.9%. Store and breeding pigs in England fell by 3.7% while Wales saw an increase of 36.9%.

The highest earning category was in store and breeding cattle, at £386 million in England and £99 million in Wales. England saw an increase of 15.3% on 2010 and Wales’s increase was 18.7%.

ends-

For further information please contact:   Chris Dodds, Executive Secretary, Livestock Auctioneers Association 01697 475 433 / 07885 731 502 chris.dodds@laa.co.uk  

Gwyn Williams, Chairman, Livestock Auctioneers Association

01625 861122

gwynn.williams@frankmarshall.co.uk  

Notes to editors: The Livestock Auctioneers’ Association is the national organisation representing auctioneering firms which occupy and run the livestock auction markets of England and Wales. Its members handle the vast majority of all auction sales of farm livestock. The Association is also supported by representatives of the Institute of Appraisers and Auctioneers in Scotland.    

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