TOUGH TIMES: Stock and station agent Ray Donovan says business at the Grafton Saleyards will improve but everyone needs to tighten their belts until then. PHOTO: JOJO NEWBY
TOUGH TIMES: Stock and station agent Ray Donovan says business at the Grafton Saleyards will improve but everyone needs to tighten their belts until then. PHOTO: JOJO NEWBY

Saleyard battles on

A PERFECT storm of low cattle numbers and low livestock prices have landed the Grafton Saleyards in hard times.

But stock and station agent Ray Donovan said we can expect the yards to bounce back as things improve.

The sales last fortnight had to be cancelled because there simply weren't the numbers to warrant holding them. This week they ran but only about 300 head were sold.

Mr Donovan said graziers in Queensland were selling cattle faster than they could be processed and prices were dropping as a result.

He also said numbers across the Clarence were very low as a result of pastures lost during the floods.

The saleyards needs to shift on average 630 head of cattle a week to stay viable.

But Mr Donovan said these two problems could not continue into the future; something simply had to give.

He said the yards had seen solid investment from Clarence Valley Council over the past couple of years. These investments included new metal fencing, renewing old wooden fencing and new runs for the cattle, which cost about $350,000.

He said the venture in its current form was very viable but everyone would have to "tighten their belts" and weather the storm until market conditions improved.

Ewingar-based grazier Fred Morgan served a total of 23 years on three different local councils.

Mr Morgan said while times may be tough, at the moment, everyone should remember how handsomely councils had profited from the venture in days gone by.

"And I'm yet to be convinced the business people in Grafton are aware of how valuable the saleyards are to the local economy," he said.

"Most rural people make sale day their business day to go into town and do their shopping."

"And if the sales were held at Casino people would go there to see their cattle sold and do their shopping."

But Mr Morgan also said, like any other business the way the yards were operated needed to be adjusted to reflect hard times.

"I believe the council and the saleyard committee need to work together to reduce the costs of managing the yards."



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