FULL HOUSE: Between the drought and coronavirus restrictions, it could be a while before scenes like this return to the Warwick saleyards.
FULL HOUSE: Between the drought and coronavirus restrictions, it could be a while before scenes like this return to the Warwick saleyards.

Struggling saleyards back on the road to recovery

THE Warwick saleyards seem to be on the road to recovery, despite most of the Southern Downs’ agricultural sector still battling through severe drought and the virus outbreak.

Stage 1 of the Queensland Government’s eased restrictions enabled the Southern Downs Regional Council to reintroduce additional buyers to the weekly sales, though they must preregister and attend in limited numbers.

McDougall & Sons stock agent Ross Ellis said the gradual relaxation of the stringent measures was an encouraging sign for the saleyards.

“We’ve been lucky to keep operating relatively normally as an essential service,” Mr Ellis said.

“The sales were pretty good last week, as the loosening rules meant more buyers could come back to the yards.

“We’re still encouraging those who aren’t normal buyers to stay away though, because it’s pretty hard to hold a sale and stick to the 1.5m distance thing.”

However, Mr Ellis added that the remaining time under coronavirus restrictions would be tough for buyers and sellers alike, especially when contending with drought at the same time.

“There’s more people buying for more companies now, so there’s a bit more diversity,” he said.

“And it’s a credit to people who sell the livestock, because they usually like to stay and watch their stock be sold instead of having to leave.

“Everyone’s been pretty good though, and understand that we all have to work together under these conditions.”

TopX Australia stock agent George McVeigh agreed, saying the coronavirus pandemic only exacerbated the drought’s impact on the region’s livestock sales, especially in cattle.

“It’s good that everything’s getting back on track, because the sales are a social day out for a lot of people,” Mr McVeigh said.

“After nearly three years of drought and with the numbers (of cattle) that were sold before all this, the numbers now were always going to be short.

“I think we’re at the lowest we’ve been for a long, long time.”

Despite the record low, Mr McVeigh remained optimistic that the wet winter season currently forecast for the Southern Downs would help struggling farmers get back on their feet.

“I’m pretty hopeful that it’s going to be a good winter for the first time in a long time,” he said.

“People seem to have plenty of feed and dry feed, but there is still a bit of a shortage of cattle about.

“The drought took its toll on a lot of people when it comes to livestock, but hopefully get the rain we need.”

Mr Ellis said he would also be holding out for a rainy winter, but it would likely still be a long while before saleyards returned to complete “normality”.

“Livestock numbers have been up and down, and that’s due to the seasonal constraints that we’ve come out of,” Mr Ellis said.

“When you come out of a big dry like we’ve seen, a lot of stock like cattle are being forward-sold, giving us lower numbers now.

“So, there’s a lot of catch-up time before you get back to normal.”



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