Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Prince’s fund issues call for evidence on livestock marts

December 23, 2019 by  
Filed under Livestock

A charity founded by Prince Charles is highlighting the benefits of livestock auction marts to rural communities and the wider economy.

The Prince’s Countryside Fund has commissioned academics at Exeter University look at the social benefits UK livestock auctions and the prospects for their future – and how the vital social role of markets can be supported.

Jointly funded by the Prince’s fund and the John Oldacre Endowment, the aim is to ensure that livestock marts are in the best position to deliver the support that the industry requires as the UK prepares to leave the European Union.

‘Vibrant sector’

Carried out by the Centre for Rural Policy Research at Exeter University, the research will examine how a viable, socially responsible and vibrant livestock auction mart sector can be encouraged and supported to the benefit of the countryside.

University researchers said they wanted to hear from auctioneers, livestock owners and any other stakeholders who use auction marts as they research the contribution made by the markets to farmers and rural communities.

Michael Winter, of Exeter University, said: “We are anxious to hear from all those with a stake and interest in the future of livestock market in the UK, to help us identify examples of good practice as markets adapt to changing demands and circumstances.”

Grant funding

Evidence submitted to researchers will be used to support livestock marts. The Prince’s fund provides more than £1m each year in grant and programme funding to projects across the UK thanks to support from its partners, events and donations.

The charity leads projects to strengthen farm businesses through its Farm Resilience Programme –  and regularly commissions research into the issues and challenges faced by farming families, rural communities and businesses across the countryside.

Fund director Claire Saunders said: “We are aware of the difficulties that many of these businesses are facing. We hope that this research will offer practical recommendations to help them prepare for the future and ensure their long term survival.”

Chris Dodds, of the Livestock Auctioneers’ Association, said the basic principle of a livestock market was to ensure fair trade for all livestock producers through the competitive and transparent bidding platform of a live auction ring.

But marts also played a crucial role in helping to tackle mental health concerns within rural communities. For many, the weekly sale was the only date in the diary for farmers to network and socialise with colleagues and friends, said Mr Dodds.

“Markets are also a vitally important link in the chain to ensuring we continue to see sustainable agricultural and wider rural communities. The social and mental health benefits provided by a vibrant auction mart business are often overlooked but should not be underestimated.”

Submissions should be made by 28 February. To respond to the call for evidence, visit www.bit.ly/AuctionMarts

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