Saleyards’ plan to survive strict crackdown
IT WAS an eerie atmosphere at the Warwick Saleyards last Thursday, with sales held according to strict new regulations to combat the spread of coronavirus.
Buyers and vendors were questioned as they entered the premises and were handed a pair of gloves to wear for the duration of the sale.
The access to cattle catwalks was restricted to essential personnel, and buyers were required to remain 1.5m away from each other to comply with government rules.
However, for Nowlan Stock and Station Agent Michael Nowlan there was still a sense of positivity throughout the sales.
“It was pretty well what we had expected when we were preparing,” Mr Nowlan said.
“At the usual Tuesday sales, everyone obeyed the rules, and it’s a credit to the general public. It was probably similar to other sales, and we sort of advised vendors not to come because that’s what the council had suggested to us to keep the numbers down.
“But the buyers were there for a purpose.”
Amid the changes made at the saleyards, Mr Nowlan was impressed with the quality of stock sold at the Feature Angus Weaner Show and Sale.
“We had just under 300 yarded – which is just a few down on what we thought we would get,” he said.
“And it was a very, very good quality yarding of cattle.”
Recent rainfall at the start the year has continued to be a welcome relief for buyers and sellers according to Mr Nowlan, with the latest hardships brought about by the virus somewhat eased.
“It was fairly good over the Christmas period, and the season has really kicked away a bit,” he said.
“It’s put a bit of hope into people again and in the back of their mind, they know they can get through this.”
While all those in attendance were happy to comply with the new measures, it would take just one person breaking the rules for the sales to come to a halt.
“At this stage the saleyard operations will keep going,” Mr Nowlan said.
“If we keep going and abide by the rules and regulations, there will be no problems.
“But it would have a very big impact if they had to stop.
“We would definitely see prices start to increase, not just at the sales but at the shops too.”
Mr Nowlan admitted the industry would struggle if it was forced to use only online platforms.
“I suppose if it comes to the crunch, there are platforms like AuctionsPlus and we could video stream it,” he said.
“I guess it could happen in due time if it continues to increase, and the Government changes those stages.
“It would just have a huge impact and would make things quite hard.”