Trade Talk by Keith Davis

19th December 2016

At the end of our busy autumn period we can reflect on the trade over the year and what effect the Brexit vote at the end of June may have had.

The breeding ewe trade has been stronger than most people expected and certainly in Welshpool with larger numbers coming forward we have been pleasantly surprised by the demand for all types of sheep. No doubt the lamb trade at the time, which has been supported by a weaker exchange rate, had given confidence to the ewe buyers.

The store cattle trade which was good in the spring remained strong throughout the summer but with a good growing season late into the autumn it appears that many of the finishers held onto their cattle longer and created an oversupply situation in October which depressed the beef trade and certainly had a knock on effect to the store trade. This was particularly disappointing for the suckled calf sales which were generally well down on what has been achieved for a number of years. Whilst the trade has rebounded since the end of October this is too late for most of the suckled calf sales. This is particularly concerning with the number of people who are getting out of suckler cows due to the costs in relation to return and also the huge burden which T B is putting on the industry.

In Wales there is currently a consultation on a new T B eradication programme, and splitting the country into three different zones with a proposal for the post movement testing of most of the cattle purchased in Wales. This is likely to have a huge impact on the cattle industry in Wales and for anyone who purchases from there. It is important to look at the proposals and respond to the Welsh Government before the 10th January.

On a completely different matter but one which can and is proving hugely costly to farmers, namely the employment of contractors on your farm.

Whilst this is a lengthy and complex topic the key thing to remember is that if you ask anyone to do work on your premises you are the person who is ultimately responsible and liable for their safety. The contractor may be known to you as skilled in their field or advertise as such but the onus is on you as the owner or tenant of the property to establish that the work is to be carried out in a safe manner. This is also true for any subcontractors who are not directly engaged by the farmer. The consequences of not having carried out the correct procedures when someone gets hurt or dies as a result can be a large fine and in some cases imprisonment.