THE long decline in cattle throughput at the Millicent saleyards has been reversed, with a 25pc surge for the financial year which ended on Tuesday.
There were 10,256 head put through the yards in 2019/20 – 2189 more than last financial year.
Steady and increasing losses over many years have tested the patience of Wattle Range Council elected members, with council previously stating it would close the saleyards next year unless its financial performance improves.
The latest figures were welcomed by Wattle Range Mayor Des Noll.
“Agents, buyers and local producers have continued to support the Millicent saleyards and the growth in annual throughput is extremely pleasing to note,” Mr Noll said.
“Council staff and particularly saleyards manager Andrew Robinson have worked hard to improve the financial viability of the facility,” Mr Noll said.
“Other initiatives at the saleyards, including the production and sale of crops on ungrazed land and the purchase and fattening of stock for subsequent resale, have also resulted in bottom line improvement.
“I urge producers to continue to support these facilities which consistently return good prices for our local quality stock.”
Nutrien Ag Solutions agent Anthony Driessen has worked as a stock agent in the region for the past 15 years and attributes the rise to a number of factors.
According to Mr Driessen, all four local stock firms have made a concerted effort to use the Millicent yards.
“The producers have also backed the saleyards,” Mr Driessen said.
“They have shown a lot of confidence.
“Ever since the drought broke in around February, the prices for cattle have skyrocketed.
“This situation has put cattle through the Millicent yards.
“The global economy has gone down due to the COVID-19 virus but the cattle market has remained strong.
“The switch to a Wednesday afternoon market at Millicent has worked well.
“There is extra buying support and we have seven meat buyers.”
Mr Driessen said Nutrien Ag Solutions had seen new and returning clients.
“Producers who had been sending 10 to 15 cattle to a store sale in Mount Gambier are now selling them in Millicent,” he said.
Stock contractor Neville Copping has headed the 10-strong team which has yarded the cattle at each sale since 2004.
He has described the higher figures as positive and expects the strong returns will continue.
According to Mr Copping, the higher numbers had been driven by price.
“Producers are better off by selling through the saleyards,” Mr Copping said.
“More local vendors are bobbing up and we have to retain them.
“My message to Wattle Range Council will keep on backing us in.
“The saleyards provide a service and they are part and parcel of a rural community.”
Furner grazier Steve Bellinger is a long-time vocal supporter and vendor of the Millicent saleyards.
With a background as a stock agent at Kingston and Lucindale, Mr Bellinger has run the family farm since 1983.
In a typical year, Mr Bellinger sends 400 cattle to market.
“I sell all my cattle at Millicent and I attend every sale,” Mr Bellinger said.
“I would have cattle at about half the sales each year.
“I have been watching the interstate cattle markets each week and the prices have been rising each week.
“There are more good times to come.
“I would like Wattle Range Council to keep on supporting the Millicent saleyards every inch of the way.
“Manager Andrew Robinson is a capable and hands-on manager.”