Trade Talk with Paul Gentry FLAA, Primestock Auctioneer, Darlington Farmers Auction Mart

1st April 2021

It is ironic that I pen this column practically one year to the day from the very first lockdown. I wonder if I was asked to write my thoughts back in March 2020 of how the following year would have unfolded, just how wrong I would have been?

Before I get carried away saying how tremendous the year has been for all classes of sheep and cattle, it is important to reflect on those who have not made it through the year due to either Covid or for other reason. We have certainly lost some extremely big characters this year, and unfortunately, we were unable to give them the send-off they deserved.

It looked likely for a while that the auctions may have to shut as part of restrictions. Practically straight away, deadweight outlets reduced their price structure and thoughts went through my head of a scenario we saw in 2001 during foot and mouth.

Thankfully, through the efforts of the LAA, common sense prevailed, and the auctions continued firstly with prime stock and secondly store stock. Record levels of prices have been seen throughout the UK for prime, breeding and store stock and in many cases new breed records established.

Today as I write this, we have seen record highs for all qualities of store cattle and cull cows, over 100 cast cattle this week averaged a DFAM record £1071 per head. The big question as we go forward, is this the new price structure for cattle and sheep?

For too long the stock sector has got used to working for nothing, and as we enter a new world of post Brexit and hopefully post Covid, it really has been proven what the supermarkets can really pay for the toils of the industry, and ultimately so can the consumer.