Millicent market thrown a lifeline

Millicent market thrown a lifeline

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DEAL MADE: Livestock agent John Chay, Millicent saleyard manager Andrew Robinson and (front) Wattle Range Council's Roger Babolka.

DEAL MADE: Livestock agent John Chay, Millicent saleyard manager Andrew Robinson and (front) Wattle Range Council's Roger Babolka.

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SALE-O was set to be called for the final time at the Millicent saleyards on June 30, after a declining throughput had made the facility unviable but the local council has granted a 12-month extension to help the complex resurrect its popularity.

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SALE-O was set to be called for the final time at the Millicent saleyards on June 30, after a declining throughput had made the facility unviable but the local council has granted a 12-month extension to help the complex resurrect its popularity.

In September, it was decided that the council-owned facility would remain open until June next year and Wattle Range Council chief executive officer Ben Gower said there was "no rush" to execute closure of the saleyards.

"The previous decision to close the saleayards in June this year was made 12 to 18 months ago," he said.

"Council want it to remain open because there are many intangible assets to having a local saleyards in a community. It offers farmers a chance to get together and have a chat or kick the dirt if they are struggling."

Mr Gower said the beef market was continually changing.

The increasing popularity of direct sales had caused an 8 per cent decline in yarding each year, for the past decade.

A working group of agents, buyers, sellers and council staff was also formed to help discover new options to increase throughput.

As a result, a regular store cattle market will be introduced in the coming months.

"Although council are concerned that store sales will not shift the needle enough to make the saleyards sustainable, the community has expressed its wishes to explore ideas to full capacity," Mr Gower said.

"We have run out of options as an operator so if introducing store sales does work, that will be fantastic," he said.

RELATED READING: Millicent saleyards future in doubt

The council's economic development manager and working group member Roger Babolka oversees the saleyards' operation and said history had shown the farming community visited town "in droves" when a sale was held.

"If we can hold regular sales and also a store sale, there is the capacity to provide additional revenue for local businesses, too," he said.

Mr Babolka said the community was eager to capitalise on the extension.

"Store sales will begin in the near future - a meeting will be held next week to get that up and running," he said.

"We have also seen a stabilisation of cattle numbers through the saleyards last year and a high return for cattle has also helped."

Mr Babolka said there was no intention of re-entering the sheep market, despite its potential to help increase the saleyards' viability.

"Whether it is cattle or sheep, if infrastructure rules change, then a capital investment challenge on a declining asset and throughput would be caused," he said.

"We will remain holding fortnightly cattle sales on Thursdays even though there were discussions among the working group to change," he said.

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