CHARGES for livestock yarded at the Muchea Livestock Centre (MLC) have increased by 1.5 per cent, in line with the consumer price index (CPI) – putting fees at $8.06 for live weight cattle and $4.60 for calves, excluding GST.
The fee for sheep and lambs has risen to 87 cents per head, excluding GST.
WA Meat Industry Authority (WAMIA) chief executive Andrew Williams said the increase was from November 2017.
“These fees have traditionally gone up from July 1 each year, but this year we left the fees unchanged in July and held up the increase an extra few months,” Mr Williams said.
“The new fees are on our website and Facebook page.”
Mr Williams would not be drawn on explaining why there was a delay.
The fees have risen in line with the CPI rate of 1.5pc per year.
In 2015 the price for yarding liveweight cattle was $7.79 and this rose to $7.91 in 2016, GST excluded.
Clayton Park Grazing Co used the Muchea saleyards recently and received one of the top prices for a Charolais cross steer at $1433.44.
Clayton Park Grazing Co owner Ashley Cooper, who runs a mixed livestock and cropping operation at Eneabba, said he didn’t notice the fee increase at the saleyards because he’d been too busy with harvest and didn’t think about it.
“Now that you mention it I’ll go and look it up,” Mr Cooper said.
He was happy with the sale price.
Mr Cooper said all the costs associated with producing and selling cattle kept going up every year but the prices he got from the stock remained about the same.
“I don’t know why the fees are always going up – or someone’s always making up some new fee,” Mr Cooper said.
“All costs seem to go up but our price doesn’t exactly go up.
“To be viable we can’t really afford to go under that $2.50/kg mark for our prime animals.”
Mr Cooper said while there was still money to be made in cattle, the market needed to hold up.
“As long as the export market is good,” he said.
“If that goes it’ll flood the local market and prices will drop.”
Mr Cooper has about 85 breeder cattle.
He said it was a good time of the year to sell off excess stock because over the summer months they struggled to put on any extra weight.
“Better to sell them now to keep our costs down because we are really just maintaining them over summer,” Mr Cooper said.
The WA beef industry is made up of about 4000 cattle businesses with 25pc owning more than 500 head of cattle, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The ABS reports that the 500 biggest cattle producers own more than 75pc of the State’s herd, with the largest herds (by number) in the Kimberley.
WAMIA’s annual report, ending in June 2017, revealed a “major challenge during the year for the MLC was the significant drop in livestock volume with cattle volume for the year being 98,990 head – compared with the previous year of 108,000 head”.
“Sheep were approximately in line with last year at 608,002,” the report stated.
Katanning saleyards manager Rod Bushell said the yarding fee charged per head of sheep was about 80 cents, plus GST, and usually went up by CPI levels.
He said the fees in the Eastern States could range from a small yard at 76c per head to a larger operation charging up to $1.50 per head for sheep.
Mr Bushell said after hearing what some producers were paying he thought Katanning’s prices were fairly reasonable.
For the past 40 years the Katanning saleyards averaged 20,000 sheep per week or 800,000 to 1.3 million head per year.
In recent times, an average yarding was about 12,000 to 15,000 head due to the downturn in stock numbers Statewide.
Mr Bushell said over the past couple of months they had seen a yarding of 20,000 sheep per week as producers sought to sell off stock before the warmer, drier months.
The Katanning facility has the ability to yard 26,000 sheep in one sale.
With larger sales, the process begins again and a second sale is held on the same day – taking the daily stock yarded to 40,000.
The updated cost to yard cattle (liveweight), have them weighed, scanned in transit, as well as covering the handling fee comes to $19.80 plus GST.
The cattle delivery cost (pickup) is $1.20 per head and the transshipment fee for under six hours is 44c, or a daily cost of $1.29, would be on top of that.
There are also extra charges for feeding stock if they are in the yards beyond the allotted sale and pick up times.