THE Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange (NRLX) will be seeking expressions of interest from agencies looking to provide services at the state-of-the-art facility following decisions made at Council’s 20 December meeting.
NRLX Operations Manager Brad Willis is pleased Council last night endorsed the 2022 NRLX Business Plan, which aims to position the NRLX as a financially sustainable, modern livestock exchange and a leader in best practice saleyard operations.
The expressions of interest (EOI) process will be for a three-year Agent Licence Agreement, which sets the scope of requirements for livestock agencies seeking to operate from the facility.
Mr Willis said the EOI allowed for an impartial, open, and competitive process aimed at refining the businesses which have the benefit of utilising community assets for commercial and financial benefit.
He 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,” Mr Willis said.
“Agencies to date have done an excellent job along those lines and future agencies will need to demonstrate a commitment to the facility, customer service, and the values and behaviours commensurate with the NRLX’s status as one of the leading livestock selling centres in the country.”
Mr Willis said obtaining value for money for vendors was enhanced when there was open competition and the market was tested.
He said an increase in agents meant more opportunities for primary producers and local businesses.
“The message is clear here: We are open for business, we are willing to continue to grow the business, expand our footprint and we are ready to support more farmers across northern NSW to achieve top dollar for their stock,” Mr Willis said.
Council’s General Manager Vaughan Macdonald said it was vital for the NRLX’s future sustainability that the producer continued to pay their fair share towards the facility, and vendor fees remained competitive in the marketplace.
Mr Macdonald said vendors historically contributed most of the fees to the NRLX business and Council had been implementing an incremental realignment of the cost sharing between vendors and agents from the previous model since the completion of the $15 million upgrade.
He said since the introduction of stock price-based vendor charges in 2020, there had not been an increase to vendor sale fees, and with Council’s decision to fix for a further three years it was a significant acknowledgement and support of the beef industry.
“In solidifying our offer for producers, the 2023-2024 NRLX Revenue Policy shows no change in core vendor sale fees and these fees will remain fixed to June 2026,” Mr Macdonald said.
“This will mean there have been no vendor sale fee changes in six years.”
The Business Plan also proposes changes to the operational processes at the NRLX, with a key priority to vertically integrate operations and services for the long-term viability and success of the business.
Mr Willis said streamlined information, knowledge, communication, and strengthened biosecurity and animal welfare measures would provide significant improvements to services, compliance, efficiency, and sustainability.
He said the plan highlighted current operational challenges, inadequacies of services and demonstrated the benefits and capacity Council had as an organisation to further advance the business for the benefit of the Richmond Valley agricultural sector.
“The plan includes strategies and actions to pursue growth, such as driving momentum in current successful areas of the business on the one hand, while pursuing untapped opportunities on the other,” Mr Willis said.
Another exciting development is the introduction of an NRLX Scholarship Program to enhance the future of agriculture in the Richmond Valley with an aim to commence students in January 2024.
“To build a strong pipeline for talent and reinvest in our agriculture community, we will be offering agricultural scholarships to find candidates who want to build a successful career in the agriculture sector, particularly in the beef sector, with great growth opportunities,” Mr Willis said.
The key priorities within the Business Plan are:
- A review of Agent Licence Agreements and the transition to a modern licence agreement with an increased focus on behaviours and values, WHS, biosecurity, transport chain of responsibility, branding, and marketing. The licence agreement will also form the contractual agreement for the supply of services which will occur with the change of operational processes.
- NRLX Agent Licence Agreement expressions of interest procurement process as an open and transparent market test to reduce limitations and remove entry barriers to the marketplace. A target to have seven agencies undertaking livestock sales at NRLX from 1 July 2023.
- The introduction of an NRLX Scholarship Program to enhance the future of agriculture in the Richmond Valley with an aim to commence students in January 2024.
- Recruitment and implementation of an NRLX livestock team, including a dedicated Livestock Coordinator and a defined and appointed Animal Welfare Officer as is now required.
Mr Macdonald said these changes were in the overall interests of future NRLX operations, site users and Richmond Valley ratepayers.
He said it was critical the NRLX remained competitive and financially sustainable into the future.
“The NRLX is already a significant contributor to the region’s agricultural economy and we need to capitalise on opportunities to further grow its economic output,“ Mr Macdonald said.
The 2023-2024 Draft NRLX Revenue Policy will be on public exhibition until 4pm, Tuesday 28 February. Any person may make a written submission during the exhibition period by sending it to Richmond Valley Council by:
Post – Locked Bag 10 Casino NSW 2470
Hand delivery – at either of Council’s Customer Service Centres in Casino and Evans Head
Online submission – by completing an online submission form via Council’s website