Producers flock to save markets

7 December 2001

Producers flock to save markets

Hundreds of farmers have

registered their support for

our Save Our Markets

campaign within a week of

its launch. James Garner

asked some producers

why this initiative is

proving so popular

THERE can be little doubt that livestock markets up and down the country are struggling to stay in business having lost most of their revenue since the end of February.

Northampton Market is just one. Two weeks ago it held a crisis meeting, asking over 200 clients to give it more support. Without that, it might never reopen after foot-and-mouth trading restrictions are lifted.

Northampton has had a collection centre up and running since June, but auctioneer Keith Rose says some farmers havent supported the collection centre as well as he had hoped. Prices have been so poor, they probably didnt want to lose commission as well, he believes.

However, most local farmers dont want to lose the market, says Shirley Turnham. "It would be a disaster if Northampton closed its doors for good.

"We lost Banbury a few years ago and we never believed that it would close. If Northampton shut, our nearest market would be Stratford, Rugby or Thame." All a fair distance away, she adds.

Most farmers that FW has spoken to feel they have not received a fair price during the past eight months and will return to using livestock markets as soon as they opened again.

They also feel they have lost money because abattoirs have given them poor weights or grading returns and there are no checks to validate this.

Frank Langrish of Langrish Farmers, Ludley Farm, Beckley, East Sussex, reckons he has been "ripped off" more than once this year.

"The problem has been that you agree a price with a buyer, but there are no checks. When you get paid, you receive something different. In a market the price is decided by the fall of a hammer and that is that."

Gordon Capstick, a regular FW contributor, who farms at Park House Farm, Milnthorpe, Cumbria, knows he has lost money by having to sell stock direct to processors this year.

"Ive been hammered to death. My lambs have made the worst price for 22 years. At one stage I was offered 120p/kg deadweight before deductions. And then there were lots of additional costs, such as handling charges, haulage and offal removal. Good Texel cross lambs were coming to less than 100p/kg," he says.

Bill Metcalf, who keeps sheep and cattle at Barningham House in North Yorkshire, says there has been "no price transparency" in fat cattle trading at all, and he has been unhappy with the grades given to cattle on several occasions.

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