Pig sale closure reflects changing mindset

Pig sale closure reflects changing mindset


Aa

THIS week marked the end of an era, with the state's weekly pig auction held at Dublin for the final time.

Aa

THIS week marked the end of an era, with the state's weekly pig auction held at Dublin for the final time.

The announcement of the market's closure initially came as a shock, but upon reflection it seems such a move has been on the cards for quite some time.

I've read plenty of pig market reports, but I had never really stopped to properly think about what a small proportion of the state's weekly pig slaughter the auction comprised. Where sales at Dublin once featured 1500 to 2000 pigs a week, that number had dropped to a few hundred in more recent times.

Although small, the market seemed to play an important role in helping people keep track of prices. It was easy to see who was selling, who was buying and, most importantly, what they were paying - even if returns did fluctuate significantly.

But it's clear the industry has embraced more direct selling arrangements. Any sadness at the closure seems to come more from a nostalgic point of view, if the initial industry reaction is anything to go by.

By selling direct to processors or signing supply arrangements with retailers, producers eliminate huge market price fluctuations and can factor the prices paid into their operational costs. But with confidentiality a core component of such contracts, it can be difficult to know if you're being paid more or less than the producer next door.

The developments of the past week, coupled with the last month's revelation that the future of the Millicent saleyards was also under a cloud, reminds me just how much the livestock market scene has changed in a few decades.

Where every small town was once home to a busy sheep and/or cattle market, these days stock are sold through saleyards serving an entire region, while numbers sold online or direct to processors are on the rise.

Driving through Gepps Cross, it's hard to believe this was once home to the state's flagship livestock selling centre, with processing facilities located on-site. Any remnants of its agricultural past have been swallowed by metropolitan infrastructure.

Those who selected Gepps Cross as a saleyard site probably never imagined the area would be engulfed by suburbia. I can't imagine the same happening at Dublin anytime soon. But then again, with the rapid rate at which farmland is being covered by housing developments to Adelaide's north, east and south, who knows where we'll be in 100 years?

Aa

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