‘Sale saviours’

Millicent grazier Moira Neagle mounted a number of persuasive arguments to retain the local saleyards when Wattle Range Council considered the future of the 45-year-old facility at its February monthly meeting.

She has championed the saleyards on council since her election as a Corcoran ward representative in 2018 and subsequent elevation to deputy mayor the following year.

In backing the continued and conditional operation of the saleyards, Cr Neagle conceded that Millicent did not always have the best prices or great numbers. “However, we always have quality stock which the buyers are keen to get,” Cr Neagle said. “The concept of private sale yards has been mooted. “This is not a model that I can see working in our geographical context.

“If our yards close, small transport operators will be negatively impacted by a reduced number of flagfalls. “One such operator said to me that he may as well sell his truck if the yards close. “There is definitely a flow-on impact from the business that is generated at our yards each fortnight.”

According to Cr Neagle, there needs to be at least 8500 head throughput per year because that was the low point of 2017. “Council chief executive Ben Gower stated at the public meeting held in January 2019 that this number needed to increase and it has,” she said.

“Who knows what will happen to cattle prices over the coming years and methods of sale. “Farmers coming out of drought are still buying and have to pay top prices to restock. “One meat buyer said to my husband last Thursday that more end consumers want grass fed meat as opposed to grain fed or feed lot meat.

“People are increasingly discerning about the journey of the meat they are prepared to put on the barbecue. “So, as producers, our selling options may very well change. Selling stock at sale yards helps set a price for meat across the industry. “This is a significant fact of cattle production and sale.

 “I cannot stand here and say that sale yard sales will still be a workable model in 10 years’ time but they remain a significant option right now and into the immediate future, particularly small vendors here to sell their stock and for the market to set a price which will vary from week to week, sale to sale and season to season.” Cr Neagle said it was her belief that rural rate payers have stated very clearly via letters, phone calls and face to face conversations they believe the sale yards should remain operational.

“They have acted on their belief with increased through-puts and the number of vendors choosing to use the yards over the past two years,” she said. “What we must continue to have is stock agents recommending that local producers use our sale yards and have producers willing to do this on an ongoing basis.

“With my motion, the ball is left very much in the hands of stock agents and vendors to manage. “If they choose not to use the yards then they, not us, are choosing to close the yards.”

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