Trade Talk By Jonny Dymond BSc (Hons) FLAA

14th March 2016

By Jonny Dymond BSc (Hons) FLAA
Beeston Castle & Chelford Auctions, Cheshire

Rearing calves at Beeston & Chelford have been selling on a very buoyant trade, when you consider the drops seen in the finished value. They are not at the dizzy heights of pre-Christmas and the £400 calf is a rarer occurrence, but Continental bulls continue to average around £300 and Heifers £260. The way some of the medium Continental cross calves are selling needs to be seen to be believed. Spring brings with it a flush of milk and a flush of spring block calves, which have easily found homes this time with both rearing and processing buyers interested in the better quality calf that has generally been produced this year, with Dairy Bull Calves averaging £55 at the moment.

Spring is just around the corner and this is being seen in the Store Cattle sales. Prices have begun on their seasonal uplift, grazing cattle will once again find an army of buyers come forward with the eye as the judge and the pocket being the guide, and you can be certain that no one can value cattle as well as the auction markets across the country!

I write this article following our Mid-Month Dairy Sale where a busy ringside of farmers saw over 300 cattle sold on average at £500 less than 12 months ago. Those on aligned contracts are still looking to expand whilst others try to stay afloat following the further price cuts felt just last week. You cannot help but feel that the Supermarkets have divided and conquered.

As a Dairy Farmers son I fear that lessons have not been learnt. There are more and more schemes and incentives out there to move farmers away from the open fair system that the auction provides. It doesn't take a genius to see where they get their price information from, so I pray the day never comes when direct buyers set the price!

A couple of questions to finish... Have you seen beef with more than 4 movements being sold in the supermarkets at a lower price? Do all the milk products in the big 4 supermarkets come from the 18% of farms on aligned contract? Is a Collection Centre which is closed to the public and with less Trading Standards supervision really higher health status than an Auction?

The answer to all is NO, so why do we stand for it?! 2016 will be a challenging year for Farmers, and a challenging year for Livestock Auctioneers and all industry stakeholders! I would urge everyone to stand together against the supermarkets as we fight for our livelihoods!