Despite the restrictions of the Covid pandemic in 2020 the total value of livestock throughput increased by 17.5% to over £556m at Scotland’s livestock marts.
The latest figures from the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland (IAAS)’s member markets show that overall throughput was up by nearly 10% year-on-year.
Commenting, Grant Macpherson, Managing Director, Dingwall and Highland Marts said that last year’s throughput figures are very pleasing to see:
“Quite simply, if we hadn’t been able to have live marts, there wouldn’t have been the same level of trade.
“This year’s summer sales were fantastic too, up until recently when increases in fertiliser prices cooled the market. Cattle were going great, with the first couple of sales in September at about £3/kg for smaller calves.
“Although the fertiliser situation has dampened things, a lot of cattle have already been sold. Sheep though, are going well, and prime sheep are ahead of last year’s prices, with lambs about £40 higher.”
Using the experience of Foot and Mouth from 20 years ago, IAAS knew it was crucial to keep markets open during COVID19 as a vital part of the food chain.
Neil Wilson, executive director of IAAS, said:
“Last year was undoubtedly one of the most challenging years for Scottish Livestock auctioneers since the dark days of Foot and Mouth.
“We are therefore delighted, more than ever, to report an increase in livestock throughputs at IAAS member markets in 2020.
“These figures highlight the critical role auction marts and companies play in delivering transparent market prices using the live ring as their unique price discovery environment. Live rings allow economies of rural communities and livestock producers to thrive, by delivering a fair market price back to these farmers, with payments that follow soon after.”
Grant Macpherson, added:
“In terms of people at marts, we’re not quite back to where we were pre-Covid, with about 50-60% of the normal levels seen at store sales, although bigger sales are attracting more. Even before Covid we live streamed our sales online, and more people are now watching these, and many say they think they’re brilliant.
“Nothing beats the live ring for speed and expediency. If there’s no live auction, there’s no competition, and it’s very easy for a price to just be decided. A fair and open system is essential for all.”