24 May 2002

Despite F&M Scot marts are healthy

By James Garner

LIVESTOCK markets in Scotland reported a healthy trade last year, despite difficult marketing conditions caused by the foot-and-mouth outbreak, says the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland.

In total, markets conducted nearly £250m of deals in 2001, down from £355m in 2000. Throughputs were down further with stock sold through markets falling by 30% on the year.

Just 2.7m animals went under the hammer last year, while 4.5m were sold through the live rings in 2000. However, the organisation remained upbeat about the future for marts.

IAAS president David Leggat said: "With the livestock sector affected for almost all of 2001, it is remarkable that Institute members continued to record the levels of business we have announced.

"There is obviously tremendous support for the auction system and it continues to be a significant player in Scotlands livestock industry."

Primestock numbers in Scotland, like those in England and Wales, have struggled to regain market share since sales resumed last autumn. According to the Meat and Livestock Commissions economics department cattle sales north of the border are about 40% down on pre-F&M levels, while sheep slaughter sales have also taken a hammering, running at two-thirds of previous levels.

Willie Blair, secretary of the IAAS, conceded that the method of selling primestock has changed.

"There has been a change in the way people sell finished stock, but our members have got involved in this, acting as selling agents and using their contacts and experience to move animals to where they are needed."

He added that significant numbers of store and breeding cattle had been handled this spring. United Auctions announced at its recent annual meeting with shareholders that its trade this spring was almost back to 2000 levels.

"There is no better place to establish a price than in a market. It has been evident this spring – you have seen the real price in the market," added Mr Blair. &#42