Trade Talk with Peter Huntley, Exmoor Farmers Livestock Auctions
25th January 2021
I believe we on Exmoor, like others, are thankful that the politicians managed to work together eventually and have a tariff-free deal, particularly for the sheep industry and trade. Whatever the new paperwork requirements they are usually achievable, but if tariffs had been required this would undoubtedly have done great damage.
At the time of writing, we are seeing probably unprecedented levels of demand for sheep, both prime lambs and store lambs, based on a combination of confidence, demand and the seeming shortage of available lamb numbers. Prices would be £20-£30 per head above the same time last year and rising.
Last autumn was busy for Exmoor Farmers, operating the two markets on Exmoor at Cutcombe and Blackmoor Gate. The usual seasonal sales saw producers well-rewarded, with tremendous prices achieved for store lambs, ewes, store cattle and suckled calves. With some vendors achieving £15-£20 more per head on lambs and in excess of £100 per head on cattle and calves, the costs of production are beginning to be rewarded. Most of our vendors always comment that they wish the buyers to make a profit also, and the outlook at the moment is very positive for that.
We, like everybody, hope that the situation on the restrictions for COVID-19 and the countrywide issues improve as soon as possible. We are thankful that, during the last 12 months, the trade all-round has been buoyant, whilst farmers and everyone through the supply chain have been dealing with these difficult times.
Whilst dealing with our winter sheep sales, we look forward to our cattle sales recommencing at Cutcombe in February and numbers coming forward for the spring period. We hope that by the time we reach the summer and autumn, things are improving all-round and we may hopefully return to more normal operating procedures.