Livestock trading industry “stronger than ever” thanks to COVID


Livestock trading industry in New Zealand is stronger than ever thanks to the innovation and resilience which came to the fore during the pandemic, according to an industry veteran.

With more than 40 plus years behind him in the stock and station industry, Bill Sweeney said the pandemic halted livestock sales “for a very short time but the innovation and resilience which then came through have made it stronger than it’s ever been.”

The strength Sweeney speaks of relates to farmers’ ability to trade stock even when the country is locked down.

“We (NZ Farmers Livestock) had been working on a hybrid auction platform before the country went into lockdown on 25 March 2020,” Sweeney said. “The pandemic simply meant we put the pedal down and got the MyLivestock platform refined and released two weeks later so farmers could resume trading.”

Sweeney said in the year since the lockdown, farmers have become familiar with the choice which now exists for livestock trading. “Where before they might only attend and bid at the local yards, now they can bid at livestock auctions across New Zealand. That has seen a diversity and vibrancy which never existed before.

“Store cattle prices are currently pretty steady and holding. The biggest issue is the drought which hit some areas harder than others. The shipping of beef overseas has certainly held schedules but with recent rain and slightly cooler days we are starting to see some grass growth which should start to see the store market increase. Once prime numbers and boner cow numbers lessen (which I believe is starting to happen) we should see a lift in values here.

“The dairy prices are stagnant due to supply and demand albeit the milk payout is looking good. With some farms going out of dairying it is putting pressure on the number of cows to pick from and this is holding values to lower levels.

“Farm sales are happening and the sale of stock – both on-farm and at the yards - has certainly helped our numbers compared to last dairy season. The works have caught up with any backlog and processing times are not too bad at the moment.”

Bill Sweeney said the biggest issue facing farmers right now “is compliance, with Government targeting farmers in stocking rates, wintering rates, dairy effluent and water for all farmers – with options for calves potentially the next on the list. Compliance is a huge cost to farming – both in terms of time and cost.

“Farmers understand their primary role is as guardians of the land for the next generation and Kiwi farmers are among the best in the world at this, so regulations need to be logical in support of good environmental and animal welfare.”

Contact : Bill Sweeney, NZ Farmers Livestock General Manager Livestock, on 027 4515310