No substitute for a good chat and real animals at livestock markets

Thank you Sarah Todd (Country Week, January 22) for your true and passionate plea for younger farmers to realise if livestock markets go, so does our reason for living in this country.

I feel appalled and ashamed that a former NFU star should be in favour of electronic sales. How boring to sit in front of a laptop, plus non-stop mobile phone calls and see the last livestock market in the East Riding die. Proper farmers, full of ecotherapy use marts as their opinion, their choice, their pleasure and somebody to talk to and do business with.

What a pity Mr Temple misses out on such a treasured way of life.

From: John Hepworth, Braemar Farm, Rolston, Hornsea.

From: Simon Foster, Newfield Grange, Calton, Skipton.

So, Paul Temple thinks it is time to end the livestock markets. That he should advocate such a move further demonstrates how out of touch with grass roots farmers the NFU has become.

The fact that Mr Temple chooses to market his 400-500 cattle annually to Dawn Meats, Carnaby, is entirely his choice, but make no mistake, if all fat stock were consigned to "kill and weigh" it would be the death knell of the livestock industry.

One only has to look at what is happening to the pig industry at the moment – plummeting prices, escalating feed costs – financial ruin!

Yes, if you wish to rid the country of livestock, Mr Temple, crack on, but just remember this – the pricing grid at Dawn Meats and any other meat company for that matter, is derived from data extracted from the livestock market.

One further benefit, worthy of mention, is the social aspect of livestock marketing.

For many farmers the weekly trip to the local market affords them the opportunity to meet friends and neighbours and to chat, eat together and generally engage in conviviality.

This is a benefit beyond price. Not everything can be evaluated in pounds and pence.

From: Brian Bartle, Selby Livestock Auction Mart.

further to Paul Temple and livestock markets: Simply put, the industry has been there, done that and found it did not work.

The marketing of livestock precisely as Paul advocates did nobody any favours and prices fell to derisory lows; the whole operation of consigning fat and store stock was a nightmare.

The electronic technology was available then, as it is now. There were a number of e-sales companies born and the proof is that none have survived.

The markets play a vital role of collecting animals and in most cases in Yorkshire they are in fairly new premises and it is hard to conceive how the animals'well-being is affected by the operation as claimed by Paul. Few stock are identical and buyers' requirements are sometime varied; what better than the market where the selection of what is wanted at first hand and with the bid sealed on the fall of the hammer and the customer - here at Selby anyway - is paid within minutes.

From: Mr D Wardell, York.

Jim Davenport writes (Country Week, January 22) the usual boring drivel in an attempt to justify his argument. The fox has been a menace for centuries, yet since the ban, they have become not just a threat to poultry but a threat to humans. I have found foxes a threat within my own property due to the hunting ban.

CW 29/1/11

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