As our agricultural sector recovers from a severe drought, Richmond Valley Council has taken the initiative to freeze agent and seller sale fees at the Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange (NRLX) in the 2019-2020 financial year.
Councillors last night voted unanimously for the measure as a gesture of support for the cattle industry, while also to ensure the NRLX continues to grow its reputation as a competitive destination for livestock sales.
Mayor Robert Mustow said Council wanted those farmers affected by the drought to know there were people thinking of them.
Cr Mustow said he was aware many producers were left with no choice but to send a good proportion of their stock to sale.
He said Council understood the challenging conditions caused by the drought and remain committed to doing what it could to help local farmers.
“Putting a hold on sale fee increases will hopefully have a positive effect on our agriculture industry and offer some financial relief to those producers who are being forced to reduce their herds,” Cr Mustow said.
General Manager Vaughan Macdonald said Council’s hard work to improve the financial sustainability of the facility in recent years had enabled it to make this decision.
Mr Macdonald said after such a significant drought, Council wanted to ensure confidence in the agricultural sector, and felt maintaining sale fees at their current level was the best decision for everyone.
He said at a time when the cattle industry was in recovery from a tough patch it was important to support them where possible.
“Keeping sale fees the same next financial year ensures our farmers aren’t impacted by rising costs at a vulnerable time,” Mr Macdonald said.
“Our beef industry is such an important part of our community and we want farmers to feel supported.”
Mr Macdonald said Council had invested significant time and effort into ensuring the NRLX was a thoroughly modern sale facility and a competitive and commercial enterprise which was financially sustainable.
He said to maintain financial stability, it would typically be prudent for Council to increase fees by two or three percent in line with CPI to ensure it had the capacity to properly maintain the facility going forward.
However, he said Council’s goal was to deliver a valuable service for all stakeholders, and in doing so provide support for the local cattle industry.
“We are confident that freezing the sale fees for an additional year will also help increase throughput and market share,” Mr Macdonald said.
Mr Macdonald said there was no doubt the NRLX was now the premier facility for the livestock trading market for northern NSW.
He said thanks to a $14 million joint investment from the NSW Government ($7 million), Council, ($3.5 million) and the Australian Government ($3.5 million), the NRLX was a truly modern, best-practice facility for animal welfare outcomes, workplace health and safety, as well as an efficient and comfortable cattle sale destination.
“Construction of stage two of the upgrade is expected to be finished by mid-year, with the facility now looking forward to its first full year unhindered by construction works,” Mr Macdonald said.
“It is timely to thank the Casino Agents’ Association for its input and cooperation throughout the upgrade project and all stakeholders for their patience while we have continued with our weekly sales while building the new facility.”
At the completion of the NRLX upgrade, the combined advantages of 20,000 square metres of soft flooring and 25,500 square metres roof will provide comfort for cattle and welcome shade for stakeholders, as well as providing an abundant supply of rain water, saving costs and preserving a precious resource.
A host of other improvements such as a 94-space asphalt-sealed carpark, new transit yard, maintenance shed and administration building, upgraded weighing area and scale house, as well as technological additions such as full CCTV coverage, dust suppression sprays, and new roofed loading ramps will completely modernised the facility.
The NRLX operation also continues to research, develop and implement modern saleyard processes for improved efficiency, accuracy and safety.
The 2019-2020 fees are as follows:
- Agent Business Licence Fee of $10,500 per annum
- Agent Business Usage Fee of $0.75 per head
- Vendor Usage Fee of $10.80 per head
- Vendor Capital Levy of $2.05 per head