THE threat of the coronavirus pandemic appears to not be limiting the day-to-day operations of the council-owned Millicent saleyards.
Despite tough restrictions imposed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday night, the saleyards will continue to trade, with attendance restricted to those conducting direct business – namely agents, buyers, transporters, contractors and staff.
Strong numbers and prices were achieved at the latest sale on Thursday with the next fortnightly market set down as usual on April 2.
The best performers of the 550 cattle on offer fetched $4.10 per kilogram for an overall average of $3.15.
Wattle Range Council development services director Steve Chapple said it was business as usual.
“We are looking to maintain the throughput through the yards,” Mr Chapple said.
“The possibility of store sales remains on the agenda.”
Meanwhile, other saleyards stakeholders have an optimistic view of the market.
Commission meat buyer Geoff Wellington is also active at the Mortlake, Naracoorte and Mount Gambier markets.
“The overall cattle market is holding its own,” Mr Wellington said.
“Numbers and quality are up and farmers are receiving good prices for their cows and steers.
“I believe the council will keep the saleyards open if the numbers stay up.”
Saleyards manager Andrew Robinson said it was pleasing to see the number of sellers at Millicent.
“We have had some of the larger producers here who we have not seen for about 15 years,” Mr Robinson said.
Pinkerton Palm Hamlyn & Steen Millicent manager Owen Merrett said fluctuations in price were chiefly related to quality.
Mr Merrett said the overall domestic market was strong.
He said the high-end export market was suffering as many overseas restaurants were currently closed.
Independent agent John Chay said there were currently strong returns for cattle but the was uncertain about how the coronavirus would impact the market.
Nutrien Ag Solutions agent Jim Noonan said the major factor which was driving the cattle market in a positive direction were the drought-breaking rains along the eastern seaboard.
“There is a great current demand from the food industries,” Mr Noonan said.
“The low Australian dollar will help exports.”