IN a major effort to beef up sales at the Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange (NRLX), agencies from across the State are being encouraged to provide their services at the state-of-the-art facility.
At its meeting on Tuesday, Richmond Valley Council agreed to undertake an ongoing expressions of interest (EOI) process to secure agencies for up to seven licences under a three-year agreement.
Council also reaffirmed its endorsement of the 2023-2024 NRLX fees and charges resolved at the March meeting, including the transitioning of the Agent Business Usage fee from a fixed per head charge to 0.2 percent of gross revenue. For example, this equates to $2 for every $1000 of livestock sold, which will be paid by the agents from their revenue of $45-$55 from each $1000, as agent commissions vary from 4.5-5.5 percent.
Local agents who had successfully applied under the EOI, and had been offered a licence, are now declining to sign the agreement at the 11th hour based on the fees and charges, despite no agent submissions being received during the extended 60-day public exhibition period for the 2023-2024 NRLX Revenue Policy.
Gross revenue at the NRLX increased from $76,479,965 in 2017-2018 to $210,437,317 in 2021-2022. This remarkable result saw a jump in agents’ commissions from $3,823,998 to $10,521,865 during the same period, making livestock selling at the NRLX a very profitable business.
The benefits which have been accrued by agents over the past six years are as follows:
• NRLX gross sales revenue – $744,976,044
• Agent Business Usage fees to Council – $549,915
• Agent Commission at five percent – $37,248,802
• Agent rent as a percentage of turnover – 1.5 percent
Council’s General Manager Vaughan Macdonald said EOIs allowed for an impartial, open, and competitive process aimed at refining the businesses which had the benefit of utilising community assets for commercial and financial benefit.
Mr Macdonald said it was critical Council ensured a competitive marketplace was provided as the community was compelled to utilise the services of an incumbent agent when they chose to sell through NRLX.
“Expressions of interest for agents’ licences will ensure Richmond Valley ratepayers can have confidence the best businesses in the marketplace have been selected to operate from the NRLX,” he said.
According to a recent MLA saleyards survey, the NRLX sits at number 10 in the country on a three-year average, with Tamworth, the leading NSW saleyard for 2021-2022, sitting at 11.
NRLX Operations Manager Brad Willis said so far this year 113,259 head with total throughput value of $139,187,909 had passed through the NRLX, with an average per head price of $1228 for the year.
Mr Willis said although the price was down from January, the past six months’ average remained as the third highest average value in the history of NRLX at $1150 per head.
He said through partnerships and alliances, the NRLX team had been working towards creating a sustainable and resilient facility which adapted to evolving market dynamics, significantly improved Work Health and Safety, streamlined communication and had overhauled the outdated non-compliant service model.
“By combining our expertise with the collective efforts of stakeholders, we are confident in our ability to develop a financially sustainable livestock exchange which drives growth, profitability, and social impact,” Mr Willis said.
Mr Macdonald said saleyards were being modernised across the country with private investors recognising the value of a high-performing operation.
He said Council must capitalise on this for the benefit of the Richmond Valley community, especially since it had been successful in obtaining $11 million in grant funding from the Federal and NSW governments to fully upgrade the facility to a modern roofed-and-soft-floor livestock selling centre.
He said to achieve this Council had invested more than $4 million as its contribution to the NRLX’s upgrade, requiring borrowings of $3.5 million.
“It is critically important Council and all NRLX users work together to ensure the saleyards remain the number one cattle selling centre on the North Coast,” Mr Macdonald said.
“Vendors have historically contributed most of the fees to the NRLX business and Council has been implementing an incremental realignment of the cost sharing between vendors and agents from the previous model since the completion of the upgrade.
“The 2023-2024 NRLX Revenue Policy shows no change in core vendor sale fees and these fees will remain fixed to June 2026 – this means there have been no vendor sale fee changes in six years.”