Agents between a rock and a hard place

05 Mar, 2015 12:00 PM
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The decision was not made lightly and it wasn't made by one person

FRUSTRATED producers pointed the finger at agents at a public meeting in Barnawartha on Monday, questioning the knee-jerk reaction to switch to post-sale weighing at the Northern Victoria Livestock Exchange.

But the debate that followed shed some light on why the saleyards advisory committee buckled after up to 10 buyers boycotted the prime cattle sale on February 17.

"It was a reaction to an ultimatum," said president of the Albury Wodonga Stock Agents Association, Trevor Parker, at the meeting.

Mr Parker read a timeline to the crowd noting the days leading up to the alleged boycott on February 17.

He said buyers had confirmed via a phone call on February 13 that they would not be active in the market if it were to go ahead as a pre-weigh sale.

He said agents called an urgent meeting and rang around other buyers to see if they would attend.

"Some categorically said they wouldn't [be in attendance], others were non-committal," Mr Parker said.

Mr Parker said at no time did any of the agents expect up to 10 processors to not bid at the prime sale.

He said the buyers that did not participate had bought 43 per cent of the prime cattle through the Wodonga yards in the past 12 months.

Mr Parker confirmed the decision was made by the saleyards advisory committee which was made up of representatives for vendors, agents, transporters and buyers.

"The decision was not made lightly and it wasn't made by one person," he said.

"The overriding priority was to maximise competition on the vendor's cattle."

NSW Farmers Cattle Committee chair Derek Schoen said a Senate inquiry was critical for anonymity.

"I bet the agents felt like they were negotiating with a gun at their head," Mr Schoen said.

He said processors had been "flexing their muscles" to convert saleyards from pre to post-weigh facilities for the past 25 years.

The only cattle selling facility left in the state that operated pre-weigh was Wagga Wagga, he said.

"The processors have got this down to a really fine art," Mr Schoen said.

"They've started ticking off the saleyards one by one; it didn't happen en masse - if it happened en masse we would have had the power, we could have said "no cattle" and the deal would have been done."

"It's a process they have used for the last 25 years and they've got their way everytime."

TheLand
Simone Norrie

Simone Norrie

is a journalist for The Land at Wagga Wagga
Date: Newest first | Oldest first

READER COMMENTS

Simon
6/03/2015 5:06:41 PM

The yards need to be reminded who pays the yard dues. It is the seller not the buyer. If the yards don't want to look after those that are paying their wages, they shouldn't be supported by the sellers either.
Qlander
10/03/2015 12:58:49 PM

Collusion ACCC?

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