HEXHAM AND Northern Marts‘ primestock manager Robert Whitelock has been appointed chairman of the Livestock Auctioneers‘ Association.

He takes over from Bruce Daniel of Leek auction mart in Staffs.

Speaking at the LAA‘s annual general meeting last week (w/e Dec 17), Mr Whitelock told members the organisation faced a series of challenges ahead.

“One of the main issues for the year ahead is to ensure the government‘s approach to TB testing is fair and workable for the entire industry.”

The association had contributed to government consultations and had presented what it believed was a realistic solution, he said.

“And we have grave concerns over CAP reform. This has far reaching implications and we are very concerned as to how farmers will approach the single farm payment.”

In the two years since marts resumed trading after foot-and-mouth, many had seen store and breeding stock figures rocket, with cattle headage up 111,000 on 2002 levels and sheep entries up nearly 500,000.

“We hope to maintain our strong business performance for the year ahead and we will continue to fight for the industry through lobbying.”