14 May 1999

MVL records first loss

MEADOW Valley Livestock blames poor livestock prices for its first annual trading loss since it was set up in 1974.

Despite handling over 90,000 more animals in the last trading year, the 4,000 strong Warks-based farmer co-operative saw livestock values plummet by 23.5% to £36.5m.

This resulted in a trading loss of £35,000 which reduced company reserves – money which is used to ensure prompt payment for stock marketed – by about £32,000, says managing director Oscar Prince.

"The results are indicative of the fall in farmers incomes," he adds.

The co-operative will have to work to reduce the cost of operations to protect returns to producers, admits Mr Prince. Some of these costs, such as increases in haulage charges due to tax increases on diesel, are outside its control, he says.

But producers could help as well. Mr Prince calls for more commitment of stock. Only 450 of MVLs traders send all their stock through the co-op. "Getting members involved in long-term marketing with selected partners should improve returns from the end user. But we need more commitment," says Mr Prince.

Pigs accounted for the greatest fall in individual stock value despite an 18% increase in numbers marketed to 450,000 head. The new United Pig Marketing co-op (Business, May 7), of which MVL is part, should help reduce the severity of future price falls, he hopes.

Numbers of sheep rose by 10% to 121,000 and cattle were up 2.5% to 27,000. &#42