BRITISH LIVESTOCK markets have shown better business growth than any other European member state, according to new figures from the Livestock Auctioneers‘ Association.

The 2003 trading year saw a 22% increase in livestock throughput in British auction marts, while throughput rose again to 167,000 head in the first six months of this year.
 
Countries suffering the biggest decline included Belgium (-20%), Italy (-12%) and Denmark (-8%).

LAA chairman Bruce Daniel said the positive British results reflected strengths the industry‘s continental counterparts couldn‘t match.

“European farmers could learn a great deal from the UK‘s way of doing business.

“The majority of Europe‘s marts seem to be struggling to retain business, and for countries like Spain, with just 11 markets in the entire country, it is not surprising.

“Most European markets are collection centres, where stock is sold under private treaty with the buyer, not by auction.

“We‘re providing farmers with what they want, a fair auction system with a group of buyers giving a fair market value.

“Bearing in mind the size of our island, we still have an extensive network of centres to give farmers choice,” said Mr Daniel.

The finished trade was still relatively well supported by the network of abattoirs in this country, but if numbers were to fall this could represent the biggest threat to the livestock trade, he added.