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'Trade deals are playing on people’s minds' - Brexit uncertainty makes buyers cautious

Uncertainty from Brexit has created caution across sheep rings, with farmers worried about the long-term effect on the industry.


Alex   Black

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'Trade deals are playing on people’s minds' - Brexit uncertainty makes buyers cautious

Farmers have become more selective when buying breeding ewes, amid fears the sheep industry could be hardest hit when the UK leaves the EU.

 

Tom Davies, Welshpool auctioneer, said Brexit was one of the reasons behind the more cautious trade.

 

He said: “Trade deals are playing on people’s minds. It is posing a few problems. People are not sure what is going to be happening.”

 

Mr Davies added it was affecting trade across sheep rings. For fat lambs, prices had been ‘up and down’, although generally coming down in price with store lamb prices fairly good.

 

Robert Venner, auctioneer at Sedgemoor Market, said there was a mood of ‘stoic’ optimism around beef and sheep rings, but there were a lot of unknowns after 2020.

 

He said there had been large numbers of store cattle coming to market, with the best cattle selling well.

 

Numbers

 

He said: “For the calf trade, there have been big numbers, but prices have held up well.”

 

Mr Davies added the launch of the enhanced TB Eradication Programme on October 1 did not seem to have affected sales.

 

He said: “Whether this will change, I do not know.”


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Lawrie and Symington auctioneer Tam Struthers said prices for breeding ewes had fallen slightly, with buyers more cautious.

 

Change

 

He said: “It is due to big political changes, but it is also the average age getting older as well. People are not looking to expand the flock.”

 

The weather has dominated the mood in the marts in Scotland and Mr Struthers said he could sense farmers’ frustrations, with many still battling to get the harvest completed.

 

He added there had been a good trade for store cattle and suckled calves.

 

He said: “Some store cattle are showing signs of the weather. Sheep sales have been steady and are also showing signs of the weather, full of wet grass.”

 

However, he emphasised the farming community was resilient, despite the depressed mood.

Mr Venner said the impact of the weaker pound was still helping support prices.

 

He said: “We have seen improved lamb and cattle prices this year. It is just imports are less competitive.”

 

For dairy cattle, prices for heifers have improved on the back of more favourable milk prices.

 

The mood on the ground was ‘cautiously optimistic’, but Mr Venner said farmers were still hurting from the last downturn.

 

He said: “No-one is rushing out to go mad over it. People are being fairly sensible. It is just the improved milk price which is enabling them to pay more.”

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