Farmers ‘move on’ from saleyards saga

Farmers ‘move on’ from saleyards saga

There appears to be little interest among the local farming community in retaining the Millicent Saleyards as a stock transit facility with just 12 locals undertaking the mandatory 15-minute induction course.

Furthermore, official figures reveal a relatively low number of sheep and cattle have passed through the yards since they were closed as a selling centre by Wattle Rangne Council last June.

The data was presented by council chief executive Ben Gower to an unofficial meeting of the Millicent Saleyards Advisory Committee last week.

A quorum could not be achieved as eight members submitted apologies for non-attendance.

It was the first scheduled meeting for over six months.

Although no business could be transacted, the minutes reveal informal discussions were held for 40 minutes.

Council wrote to all saleyards users last year advising of the new mandatory stock transit induction as well as the requirement to submit National Vendor Declarations in the interests of biosecurity and traceability.

Mr Gower advised that so far 12 people have been inducted through the new (stock transit) process and a total of two stock transfer bookings have been made so far.

“Two lots of cattle have gone through the yards, one being a local with two head of cattle who also rang council to request assistance with how to operate the ramp,” stated the minutes.

“A total of 316 sheep have gone through the yards, 269 sheep were in one large lot mid-December 2023.

“These numbers are all that has come through to Wattle Range Council’s records to date.

“The (transit yards induction) process seems to be working well, with users arranging a time with council operations manager Tim Whennen to undergo an induction that takes no more than 15 minutes to complete.

“However, it is suspected that some casual use has been occurring without following the process.

“Council have been receiving a copy of National Vendor Declaration forms from these users.

“So far, the administration process is working well to track stock moving through the yards.”

Mr Gower also noted that thus far, the number of stock moving through the yards is minimal and potentially not worth the administration time it would take to invoice the small fee for use of the yards.

Currently, no invoices have been sent out to users since this process began.

The meeting heard that some of the broad acres that form part of the saleyards complex were currently being leased on a short-term basis by a local stock agent.

Furthermore, there is interest in purchasing the freehold of the saleyards.

The asbestos has been removed from the administration building and weighbridge onsite, the upper storey of the building is still blocked off as it has been mostly gutted to achieve this.

Council is still maintaining the toilets and shower within the administration block.

Acting Engineering Services director Craig Turner advised the truck wash facility is almost up to Safework SA standard.

He said some galvanised posts on the northern side will be fitted soon, completing this project.

Mayor Des Noll was an apology to the unofficial meeting but declined the invitation from this newspaper to comment at length on the minutes.

“The minutes will be tabled at the February 13 monthly council meeting along with a report from chief executive Ben Gower,” Mayor Noll said.

“The elected members present at the meeting will decide any future action.

“My personal thoughts are the users have moved on and changed farming practices of transporting their stock.”

Council’s Audit and Risk Committee has repeatedly considered the operations of the saleyards over many months and will again do so when it next meets on February 13.

Councillor David Walshaw successfully moved the following motion at the October meeting of the Audit and Risk Committee.

It recommended to the full council that expenditure on the transit yards be postponed until such time as the Audit and Risk Committee receive a report in February 2024 in relation to usage and operation.

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