A new $14 million regional livestock exchange is set to be operating near Yass by early 2016, after the project received development consent from the New South Wales Government late last week.
The proponents of the state-of-the-art facility expect it to handle more than 1.2 million sheep and 150,000 cattle per year when it reaches full operating capacity.
The South East Livestock Exchange development has been three years in the making.
The proponents are Yass agribusiness identities Col Medway and Brendan Abbey.
Mr Medway runs real estate business Landmark Harcourts Capital and agricultural asset management and advisory business AgScope in Yass, while Mr Abbey is a local grazier and stock and station agent.
Mr Medway said a compelling case existed for the construction of a large, modern regional livestock exchange in the SE NSW region.
“The whole Southern Tablelands, Monaro and the eastern side of the South West Slopes are core livestock breeding areas,” Mr Medway told Sheep Central this week.
“At the moment they are serviced by a multitude of smaller centres – Yass, Goulburn, Cooma, Braidwood, Cootamundra, Young is already shut, and Queanbeayan.
“There is already a lot of leakage of livestock to other selling centres.
“At the moment we are in a core livestock breeding area that is not really serviced by a decent regional selling centre.”
Yass is on the junction of five highways and major arterial roads, adding logistical support to its location for a new livestock exchange.
The proponents say they have been in deep discussions with a number of investors during the project’s development phase.
While they are yet to secure financial backing, they are confident that will happen quickly.
“Nothing has been formalised yet. Those discussions were a bit abstract until the project received development consent and we were aware of the conditions of that consent, but we expect that to progress pretty quickly now,” Mr Medway said.
Construction is expected to begin in 2015 with first sales to commence early 2016.
The cattle facility will be fully shedded with soft floors, while the sheep facility will be concrete, and the buyers lanes and drafts covered.
The SELX would be expected to capture stock produced in the local region that is currently being sold through nearby regional livestock exchanges such as Wagga Wagga and Carcoar (Bathurst), which are both within a 170km radius of Yass.
The facility is also likely to impact on numbers at the local region’s existing largest selling centre, Goulburn, which is about 70km away and currently handles about 200,000 sheep and 40,000 cattle per year.
Mr Medway said throughputs at local saleyards in the region were shrinking and it had long been identified that a modern livestock exchange in the region was needed.
“Because those smaller centres are not deemed to be suitable, basically it is the chicken or the egg story – if you get the stock, you get the buyers, if you get the buyers, you get the stock.
“It can either spiral up or it can spiral down.
“We’re a core livestock breeding area. We’re not fighting the plough, there is not competing land use, our numbers are very solid, and it is just an area that warrants a regional selling centre.
“The numbers are there, there is goodwill among agents, producers and buyers which I think will ensure the success.”
The proponents say 11 agents have already indicated they will sell through the new centre.
Mr Medway said he saw a strong future for open cry auctions.
“There will always be other selling methods, direct consignment, Auctionsplus, but all the rates are set by the open cry auction system.
“It is a very efficient method to transfer the ownership of livestock, and there will always be a role for it in some way, shape or form.”