Saleyards are a place to connect

Saleyards are a place to connect

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Stephanie Whitaker, Burnett Livestock & Realty, Biggenden, with her husband and co-principal, Lance.

Stephanie Whitaker, Burnett Livestock & Realty, Biggenden, with her husband and co-principal, Lance.

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In this week's ALPA Stock Talk column Stephanie Whitaker outlines why livestock saleyards are more than just selling centres.

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There is plenty happening in the saleyards sector this year and the welcome rain over the past four months is certainly a big player. In March we saw Longreach hold special sales of AACo steers, the first sales for Longreach in five years. The sales brought many visitors to town, and many locals too, demonstrating the social and economic value of saleyards to rural communities.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the operations of the Roma Saleyards and a multimillion-dollar infrastructure improvement program is underway. As the largest selling centre in Australia, Roma not only sees huge volumes in cattle transactions but also fosters a growing tourism interest in the industry. The Australian Livestock Markets Association (ALMA) are holding the 2019 National Saleyards Expo in Roma on 23-25 July in recognition of the significance of the Roma Saleyards to the industry.

Our Biggenden yards - the Burnett Livestock Exchange - have been completely rebuilt and was officially opened on 26 April, ensuring sale days will continue to bring visitors to our community and providing a space for producers, current and past, to gather and connect. The yards are also the perfect place for health workers, financial counsellors and other service providers to connect with members of the rural community. Sale day helps these professionals to take a measure of where the community is at and how people are coping.

A new spin off we have already noticed is the number of visitors who come on sale day for a look. It is the perfect opportunity for us to spread the word on how important our livestock industry is, and showcase how our beef is the safest, cleanest, best in the world. Saleyards are very transparent facilities and in the wake of the animal activists trying to terrorise producers it is important that as agents we spread the word on how we ensure animal welfare is a top priority. When there is nothing to hide there really is nothing to hide. Talking to the visitors, it has been very reassuring to know the vast majority are wanting to know more about their food.

The saleyards sector plays a huge role in the agency industry, it is a perfect training ground for new agents. There really isn't anything quite like developing resilience, skill and stamina like you do when handling big yardings, a tough market and trying to do everything you can for your clients.

It is reassuring to see the investment and interest in yards and the support from not only our clients but also the community and human services sector and from tourists.

Stephanie Whitaker is a member of Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association (ALPA).

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