13 November 1998

Another market to close

BURY St Edmunds market has become the latest casualty of the slump in livestock prices.

The Suffolk mart, one of the countrys biggest for pig sales, will hold its last auction on Dec 16.

This "very sad" decision was taken because its continued operation could not be justified, say auctioneers Lacy Scott and Knight. "The BSE crisis, the disastrous slump in pig and sheep prices and the move towards more direct selling have resulted in a dramatic decline in income. This year alone commissions have fallen by over 50%."

John Martin, secretary of the Livestock Auctioneers Association, urges farmers that use the mart to consider other auctions, rather than go deadweight. "This news is indicative of the general malaise in agriculture from which no one is exempt," says Mr Martin.

"A big blow, leaving farmers with one less selling alternative," is how Peter Crichton, a pig consultant and former auctioneer at Bury, dubs the news. "It was a transparent price that we could all focus on."

Elsewhere in East Anglia, Wickham mart closed in 1997 and Kings Lynn held its last sale in 1996. Earlier this year Banbury also called it a day.

Weekly car and poultry auctions will continue at Bury St Edmunds and the other areas of Lacy Scott and Knights business remain unaffected. &#42