Beef Farmers Encouraged to Use Marts

UK - British beef farmers should make use of their local livestock markets after the trade reported a 12 per cent growth in revenue from slaughter cattle in England and Wales.
calendar icon 4 June 2012
clock icon 3 minute read

The substantial increase in revenues was chiefly driven by a sharp rise in the price slaughter cattle were fetching at market, the Livestock Auctioneers Association reported.

Chris Dodds, Executive Secretary of the LAA, said the figures represented a huge success for the industry, adding that beef farmers should "ignore livestock markets at their peril".

"There are many reasons farmers should be using the markets to sell their stock, not least the higher prices they are getting compared with sales to abattoirs. Perhaps a more fundamental reason is the existence of the markets themselves.

"Markets are the only vehicle through which a fair price can be set. We've seen what's happened in some sectors of agriculture where prices are controlled by the supermarkets. The sectors that are doing well are the ones that sell at auction," he said.

"The advantage of the market for producers is that it is transparent, competitive bidding. At the end of the day if they don't like the price, they can take their animals home. A real benefit for farmers is that they can have the confidence that they will be paid promptly, which they don't get elsewhere," he said.

Revenue from sales of slaughter cattle at auction in England and Wales rose from £259.3 million in 2010 to £292.7 million in 2011, an increase of more than 12 per cent.

The average price for slaughter cattle in England in 2011 was £957, compared with £829 in 2010, while in Wales, the average price increased from £881 to £965.

Revenues from store and breeding cattle saw a year-on-year rise of 16 per cent in England and Wales from £418.2m to £485.2m, with the number of animals sold increasing from 703,270 to 743,351. Revenue from the sale of calves grew from £29.5m to £32.9m, with just a small increase in the number of animals sold from 218,397 to 219,032.

Total sales of livestock in England and Wales for 2011 were £1.81 billion, against a total of £1.54 billion in 2010. Turnover in England was £1.48 billion, representing a 17.9 per cent increase on 2010, and turnover in Wales was £330 million, a 16 per cent increase on 2010's figure.

The highest rise in turnover was for cattle which in 2011 in England and Wales was £1.02 billion, compared with £0.86 billion the previous year, representing an increase of 18.3per cent. Turnover from sheep sales was £775.4m in 2011, a 16.7 per cent rise on the previous year's figure of £664.4m. Pig sales at auction rose by 5per cent, with an increase from £13.8 million to £14.5 million.

The total number of cattle sold in England and Wales for 2011 was 1.68 million, an increase of 15.7per cent on 2010. Just over 10 million sheep were sold, compared with 9.7 million in 2010, an increase of 3.7per cent. The number of pigs sold increased by 9.4 per cent from 159,000 to 170,000.

The highest percentage category increase of turnover recorded was in cull cows, with England seeing a 38.6per cent increase year-on-year from £90.3 million to £125 million, and Wales increasing by 33.6 per cent, from £12.6 million to £16.8 million.

The highest earning category was in store and breeding cattle, at £386 million in England and £99 million in Wales. England saw an increase of 15.3 per cent on 2010 and Wales's increase was 18.7 per cent.

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