THERE are mounting calls for the Jamestown sheep market to be opened up to more agents in an effort to boost stock numbers and, therefore, producer returns.
But saleyard owners Elders and Landmark are not receptive to the concept, saying they have no interest in their "direct opposition" using the facility.
A vocal advocate for bringing in more independent agents to the Mid North yard is Quality Agribusiness Group managing director Mark Dyson.
He said yardings at Jamestown had been down by about 35 per cent in the past 10 years, figures he had obtained from ALPA.
"Times are changing and it is about a user-pays system," Mr Dyson said.
"If I was a shareholder of Elders or Landmark I would be wanting to get every dollar I possibly could, whether it's from a competitor or a client.
"I think it would be very good for Jamestown because we'd have bigger sales and more buyers, hence the reason why clients would end up putting more livestock through there.
"They shouldn't look upon it as a negative, they should look upon it as a positive because times are evolving in agriculture."
Mr Dyson said he would certainly look at building a new set of yards in Jamestown, but if there were other selling centres and yards available they would prefer to use that.
Combined Independent Agents Association chairman Garry Willson said all parties had a lot to gain from a bigger Jamestown market.
"The bigger the saleyard numbers, the bigger the number of people who will come from elsewhere," he said.
"Not many buyers from the South East attend those Mid North sales any more as they don't want to go to Jamestown if there are only 10,000 sheep yarded - they'd rather stay home and buy privately but if there's 20,000 sheep there, there would be more choice and it's worthwhile.
"Interstate buyers aren't going to travel for 10,000 sheep either, so the bigger the market the more chance you've got to sell them."
Elders national livestock manager Chris Howie said the 30,000-head capacity yards at Jamestown were booked out right through until Christmas.
* Full report in Stock Journal, September 5 issue, 2013.