28 November 1997

See some of the best stock in the world

The Winter Fair gives

farmers the chance to set

themselves quality targets,

explains auctioneer

Terry Court

SELLING the Winter Fairs supreme cattle champion is one of the highlights of auctioneer Terry Courts year, even though the RWAS pockets the commission.

When Russell Baldwin and Bright tendered to sell stock and carcasses at the first Welsh Fair they agreed to do the job for nothing, and did so for three years. Now the company claims a share of its staff expenses, which means it is still in effect an important sponsor.

"I must admit that I was the one who pushed for us to get involved," says Mr Court, who is vice-chairman of the company founded 151 years ago. "I had always wanted to sell the Royal Smithfield champion but knew that would never happen. Now I and my colleagues have the privilege of auctioning champions that are every bit as good as those at any major primestock show."

The auctioneering firm operates at eight livestock markets in an area extending from Malvern to Llanwrtyd Wells. These sell around 150,000 store and finished cattle, and 700,000 store and finished sheep a year. Other activities include auctioning pedigree livestock, 4×4 vehicles, plant and machinery, land and farms, horses and ponies and fine arts.

Mr Courts determination to get involved with the Winter Fair was backed by fellow director John Edwards, whose father Harold was a past RWAS president and one of the architects of the development of the permanent showground.

Now five auctioneers, eight clerical staff and 10 general workers are committed to the event for two days each December. The company also contacts and distributes tickets to around 150 potential buyers, collects sale commission from vendors on behalf of the society, and handles all the paperwork.

The considerable cost is set against the benefits of raising the firms public profile, the goodwill generated with exhibitors and farmers, and the kudos of being associated with a successful event.

Quality targets

"The show is very important to the farming community in many ways. The chance to see some of the best stock in the world provides producers with quality targets. We are moving towards the day when most of a livestock farmers income will come from the market, rather than support payments, so we have to concentrate on continuous improvement.

"A day out at the Winter Fair is an opportunity to talk to breeders and specialists who can help farmers achieve this. It is also a social event that can also boost farmer morale."

Mr Court, who started work for the company 42 years ago when 95% of stock were walked to some markets, has not been impressed by the recent performance of farming unions. They have, he claims, been too submissive and allowed politicians and food anarchists to ride roughshod over the industry.

"With £300 being paid for cattle worth £1000 it is time somebody said no. Farming leaders should ask themselves if they have achieved anything recently; if the answer is no they should walk away and give someone else a chance."

Terry Court, Russell Baldwin and Bright, will sell the supreme champion

WELSH WINTER FAIR

Date: Tue, Dec 2.

Venue: Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells, Powys.

Gates open: 7.30am.

Judging: From 8am.

Admission: Adults £5; Senior citizens £4; school age children £2.