Sheep and cattle saleyard attendance restrictions eased

Sheep Central, June 15, 2020

Elders auctioneer Nigel Starick selling lambs at Bendigo last year. The Bendigo yards has relaxed attendance for buyers only — allowing an extra 15 store buyers in at weekly sales.

PEAK sheep, wool and beef industry bodies have supported the relaxing of attendance restrictions for Australia’s livestock saleyards during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Australian Livestock Markets Association said today the Australian livestock industry is pleased to welcome vendors back to saleyards and selling centres from today.

Many facilities have put in place measures to assist with social distancing and vendors for weeks had been prohibited from attending livestock sales as part of a suite of restrictions recommended in the COVID-19 National Saleyards Protocols.

ALMA said the changes were necessary to ensure the safety of essential saleyard workers as well as the continuity of selling and the wider food supply chain and were agreed to by saleyard operators, agents, buyers, processors and producers in consultation with the Federal Government.

And although the relaxed restrictions agreed to by nine peak bodies still require anyone attending saleyards to carry out social distancing and good hygiene practices, some centres might still decide to limit attendances depending on centre layouts. Despite the recent decision by the peak bodies, some yards are still not allowing vendors to attend, but allowing extra buyers into sales.

The bodies who have agreed to restrict saleyard attendance restrictions include ALMA, the Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association, the Australian Meat Industry Council, the Australian Lot Feeders Association, the Cattle Council of Australia, the Red Meat Advisory Council, the National Farmers Federation, Sheep Producers Australia and WoolProducers Australia.

ALMA president Ken Timms said the industry was and remains acutely aware of the immense challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to reduce the risk of exposure to and spread of COVID-19.

“However, we’re excited now to be in a position to invite vendors back to our facilities to take part in the action and vibrancy of sale day – albeit with new precautions in place.”

Mr Timms said it was of utmost importance that competitive bidding in saleyards was able to continue.

“Prospective buyers have never been denied the ability to purchase livestock from saleyards and can continue to compete through an accredited buyer, free of charge through their preferred agent or directly themselves either at the facility or via an on-line arrangement concurrent with live auctions.”

ALMA executive officer Kate McGilvray said the relaxing of saleyard attendance restrictions recognised a change in the onus of responsibility from businesses to members of the public to adhere to COVID-19 social distancing requirements.

“Social distancing within the saleyard industry still has to be complied with.

“So first preference is obviously going to those essential attendees – saleyard staff, agents, their agency staff and buyers – then if they are able to comply with social distancing, vendors with livestock in that particular sale can also attend,” she said.

“It is a sale-by-sale situation, depending on the number of registered buyers coming in and the number of potential vendors with stock.”

Australian Livestock Saleyards Association executive officer Mark McDonald said the consensus of a number ALSA members who met two weeks ago was that even when restrictions ease, they would be in no rush to get vendors and the public into saleyards.

“It’s state jurisdictions that decide a lot of this stuff anyway.

“Our understanding is that it is also up to the individual saleyard.”

Mr McDonald said some saleyards were looking at let some of the smaller prime buyers back into centres.

“At store sales, vendors have also been allowed to come in and look at stock and pass on their bids to an agent.”

Meat and Livestock Australia recently allowed livestock market reporters to return to saleyards.

ALMA said vendors and buyers should check with their local selling centres to determine the exact requirements of access.


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