5 April 2002

Masham Mart deal staves off closure threat

By James Garner

A DEAL has been struck between Craven Cattle Marts and Masham Farmers Auction Mart, which will safeguard the immediate future of Masham Market in North Yorks.

The site will now open on Apr 9, subject to DEFRA approval, when a sale of store cattle will take place. A weekly collection centre for prime stock is also planned, starting on Apr 14.

According to Martin Falshaw, chairman of Masham Farmers Auction Mart, who have run the market since it was established in 1921, the market was planning to re-open, but on a very limited seasonal basis. Interest from CCM late last year changed the markets plans and will allow more regular sales at the mart.

"Everyone is fully aware that Masham Auction Mart has been struggling to achieve an economic number of stock for sale over the last few years. This, coupled with the foot-and-mouth crisis, left some drastic decisions to be made.

"For the mart to open on the same basis as before with reduced stock numbers, the results could only have meant more losses for the company."

In its heyday, during the late 1970s, the market sold 3200 cattle and 15,000 sheep a year, but changing farming practises in the region has reduced numbers, added Mr Falshaw. "There are fewer cattle feeders in the area and more breeders are finishing cattle themselves now."

Jeremy Eaton, CCM general manager, confirmed that the mart will be run on a seasonal basis, but he hopes the closure of nearby Ripon Market will help Mashams new operators expand its livestock activities.

"The market will remain the centre of Masham Sheepbreeders Association sales, as well as sales for store cattle for which the mart has built up an excellent reputation." &#42