All European auctioneers are faced with the same issues

1st June 2012

Last week the Livestock Auctioneers Association hosted its European Association of Livestock Markets (EALM) annual conference and AGM in Cumbria and although the weather was somewhat cold (unlike this week) the delegates were given a brief, but intense introduction to our businesses in the North West of England.

Some of the delegates extended their visit by arriving one day early in order to visit Longtown Market in action, and as we all know this is the largest sheep marketing auction business in Europe. This experience certainly gave them something to think about, with many of them never having seen as many sheep gathered in one place for the purpose of sale and onward dispatch.

It was interesting to hear both the Dutch and French delegates saying that the prime spring lambs were noticeably dearer with them back at home. This surely gives us some hope that trade will start to stabilise, and although the strength of the UK pound against the Euro will have a noticeable impact on export values this season, if our European customers markets remain strong it gives hope that our exporters will soon be able to begin their seasonal trade. Although some of the market vendors were commenting that the cull ewe trade was slightly less on the week our European delegates felt that it was still dearer than the trade being experienced with them back at home, although they do not have the depth of variety in breeds to market.

On the Friday we visited Cockermouth market where they were holding a spring show and sale of store cattle, with trade strong and a full ringside of buyers, everyone commented on the good prices being achieved. Whilst at Cockermouth we were introduced to various environment friendly schemes the market operators have invested in, namely, photosynthetic panels on the market roof, a water purifying system and the mechanism by which they separate the solids out of the waste water, before it is discharged off site.

It was interesting to learn that the hidden costs associated to the discharge of dirty water from our livestock markets in the UK is also an issue for our associates throughout northern Europe, and many delegates were particularly interested to learn from our experiences here in the UK.

On the Friday evening we toured Lake Windermere on one of the steamers before enjoying a Cumbrian themed evening meal in the hotel. It was commented by several delegates that the Cumbrian lamb, Cumbrian cheeses and the Cartmel sticky toffee pudding were all especially good!

The Saturday conference looked at the future changes in CAP, and with speakers from the EU Commission and the CAAV it ensured that a lively debate followed the presentations. It is clear that although the skeleton framework for change has been developed that there are mountains to climb before “the meat is finally put on the bones”

Later on Saturday afternoon we visited the new Kendal livestock market site. The market is in development, with a completion date of 1st August this year. As with all recently developed market sites the company is showing a true allegiance to the local farming community by investing so heavily and offering a modern high tech, all singing, all dancing new facility that has put animal and human health and welfare at the forefront of all the development decisions. The management team of the new auction mart were congratulated, by all the delegates, for their support and investment in both the farming and local communities.

I hope that that all of the 135 delegates went back home with some new thoughts as to how they can make the service they offer their clients better, more effective and more beneficial.