The Livestock Auctioneers' Association Limited (LAA)

Autumn Ponderings

25th November 2015

We have just held the St Luke’s Fair Prize Show & Sale which is traditionally our largest and busiest sale of the year. This year was no exception with almost 600 store cattle and 2000 store/breeding sheep forward. From a business angle, this was very pleasing to see and the benefits of gathering good bunches of stores together was evident, with buyers travelling from far and wide to view a large selection of feeding and wintering stock.

Trade was pretty good despite the financial constraints on agriculture at the moment with almost a total clearance. Some cattle proved harder to sell while others were dear but there was more of a “backend” feel to this autumn sale whereas the previous two autumns have seen stock, especially cattle as dear if not dearer than the spring. Perhaps this will give the cattle feeders chance to recoup something for their coffers and come back strong next time. There is no doubt that plentiful supplies of fodder and copious stores of cheap corn should give people chance to achieve a positive margin. This is not a reason for the major players to drop their prices.

The beef trade up to Christmas has had no bite recently and after Christmas in the previous two years, has been decidedly sticky. The public overspend for Christmas comes back to bite us as the credit card bills hit the doormat in January and February. Why don’t the major supermarket retailers drop their prices in line with the market place and put on some promotions which are evident pre-festivities but blatantly lacking afterwards? Please, somebody explain! These facts were no doubt in purchasers’ minds when setting out their buying regime this time.

With the squeeze already on, the ever depreciating Basic Payment monies will be eagerly anticipated and will no doubt impact on cash flows. There were quite a few regular farmer buyers missing at the Fair and we will discover in a week or two if they were busy drilling or just drawing their horns in!

We have the fourth collective machinery sale of the year coming up on 14th November and we are not anticipating things to be too buoyant. Machinery dealers are seeing trade almost non-existent, with the traditionally quiet winter around the corner. With this in mind, we have decided to build a relationship with a finance provider for purchasers of the more valuable items we may have for sale to help grease the wheels a little at these austere times.

The Christmas Primestock Show is fast approaching on 1st December where entries will be hard to come by as they have been over recent months. We are in desperate need for more finished cattle numbers, with new and regular buyers attending each week looking for stock. Some cattle are finding their way back to the live auction away from the abyss of direct selling and this trend needs to continue if we are to keep buyers around the ring at Bridgnorth. I am now in the throes of finding a Christmas Show judge and sponsorship – wish me luck!