SALES are booming at the Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange with widespread rain in January and February driving a surge in demand accompanied by healthy increases in cattle prices.
The increasing demand for livestock comes in the first full year after the completion of the $14 million upgrade to the facility, which included the construction of a 25,500 square metre roof providing welcome shade for stakeholders and a host of technological, environmental, and animal welfare upgrades.
Richmond Valley Council General Manager Vaughan Macdonald said recent sales had seen a boom in demand for livestock, with buyers coming from as far away as Victoria and central Queensland – and prices rising fast.
“With the recent Friday sale on 14 February, we reached a top price of $4.74 per kilogram, compared to around $2.65 in February 2019,” Mr Macdonald said.
Mr Macdonald said a previous sustained period of high cattle prices in 2016-2017 saw a record 119,000 head of cattle sold in the same year.
“Obviously we’re seeing those high prices again, so it’s a great sign for a positive year for cattle sales at the NRLX,” he said.
“At this stage we are conservatively estimating we will see around 110,000 head sold in 2019-20.”
Mr Macdonald said the rain had been a boon for local producers, many who had been forced to sell off stock at the height of the drought and bushfire crisis last year.
“It is clear that a record month of sales in November can be largely attributed to producers de-stocking due to the unfortunate impacts of the drought and bushfires,” Mr Macdonald said.
“Council had the foresight in April last year to freeze agent and seller sale fee increases in 2019-2020, which we hope provided some financial relief to producers who were forced to reduce their herds last year.
“The NRLX also played a role during the fire crisis by assisting authorities in accommodating livestock from fire ravaged properties.
“Fortunately, the significant rain has seen cattle prices rebound strongly, which bodes well for our local producers for the rest of the year.”
Mr Macdonald said with the completion of the upgrade last year, the benefits of the new facility were becoming fully apparent.
“With the construction phase out of the way, our stakeholders are enjoying the full benefits of this state-of-the-art facility, as the premiere livestock exchange for Northern NSW,” Mr Macdonald said.
“The fact we have had buyers some from as far as Victoria combined with regular visitors from south western Queensland, southern NSW, and significant volumes from western NSW, shows the NRLX and our agents are successfully bringing new business to the region.”
Mr Macdonald said an exciting new addition to the NRLX was a purpose-built administration centre, providing a modern office space and the capacity to host conferences and workshops for the livestock industry.
“Richmond Valley Council contributed an additional $250,000 towards the new administration centre, which had also attracted the interest of the NSW Government with Local Land Services in the process of relocating its Casino office there,” Mr Macdonald said.
The building includes a conference and training room with full audio and visual capabilities, meeting rooms, and office space for NRLX staff and other stakeholders.
“The administration centre will improve services, links, and relationships with all our stakeholders and ultimately develop the NRLX into a five-day a week customer service-oriented facility,” Mr Macdonald said.
“This was a great investment into the future of the site.”
A range of other improvements including a 94-space asphalt-sealed carpark, new transit yard, maintenance shed and administration building, upgraded weighing area and scale house, as well as technological additions such as full CCTV coverage, improved telecommunications coverage, dust suppression sprays, and new roofed loading ramps have completely modernised the facility.
“The NRLX is providing a new vision of service for regional agriculture,” Mr Macdonald said.
“We are committed to innovation, technology, collaboration and strong relationships with all stakeholders to deliver sustainable growth and value.”