The inability to attend local yards during the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to strong feelings of loneliness and isolation among salegoers, new research has suggested.
The 2022 Social Value of Saleyards research report was presented at the ALMA national saleyard expo held in Cairns last week.
Underpinned by the Australian Livestock Markets Association, the project was carried out by Heather Ellis of BlueWren Connections and her team at saleyards across the country.
Ms Ellis said COVID-19 impacted isolation with 93 per cent of participants experiencing loneliness when not attending the local sales.
"Queensland was not as impacted as other states during COVID-19, however, it did create concern and complexities for saleyard managers and operators," she said.
"Some vendors reported feeling frustrated that different saleyards had different COVID-19 processes.
"It was clear that producers living and working on their own, or with their partner, missed coming to the saleyards to socially connect and keep up to date with market trends and information."
Ms Ellis said 15 women and 38 men participated in interviews across two Queensland sites: Blackall saleyards and Coolabunia saleyards.
The Burnett Livestock Exchange was used for observation purposes only.
Stakeholders interviewed ranged from producers, agents, transport operators, community members and local government personnel among others.
Ms Ellis said core social and educational themes were prevalent in the research data collected.
"97pc of participants stated a feeling of belonging and connection with the community around the saleyards," she said.
"A further 90.5pc said saleyards provide an integral place for information sharing and education."
Interestingly, Ms Ellis said Queensland differentiated from other states in the tourism realm with the benefits of planned tours and providing education to tourists.
"Operating tours provided meaningful roles, both paid and voluntary, for tour operators in the community to share their knowledge and wisdom about the industry," she said.
"Tour operators, vendors and agents were proud and excited to be sharing information with people that were interested in learning about the livestock industry."
The full research report can be found on the Australian Livestock Markets Association website.
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