Cattle yards lease relinquished

The long-term lease holder of the Kerang cattle yards will end its involvement with the site on March 31 this year, exercising an option to exit its lease early.

The site is owned by Gannawarra Shire Council.

"Very few sales have been held at the site during the past year, and although negotiations between Scanclear Pty Ltd and local agents have been ongoing, there has been no interest from the agents at this stage to reinvigorate the sales or local grower enthusiasm to use the saleyards," council's director of infrastructure and development, Geoff Rollinson said.

Scanclear's owner and operator, Brendan Carey, is adamant local sales agents are in no way to blame and stated that a lack of cattle numbers in the area is at the heart of the issue.

"It's not their (agents') decision to shut the place at all. It is a fact that they just don't have the volume of stock on a fortnightly basis to hold a sale where they're going to get the best value for their clients.

"We could be having sales of 80 to 100 (cattle), but the buyers aren't going to come along, so the vendors are going to be selling their stock at a lower price. So why would they want to do that?"

When asked for further comment, Council's Mr Rollinson conceded the numbers of cattle available are low and that neither the agents, nor Scanclear, can be blamed for making a business decision to put the cattle yards into what he describes as "recess".

Mr Carey said that for the cattle yards to remain viable they would need to hold fortnightly sales, with sufficient cattle on offer. 

At a meeting last September, he indicated that would require a guarantee of at least 200 cattle per sale. 

Mr Carey dismissed calls to hold monthly sales, suggesting such a measure is not practical as farmers need to sell their cattle when the animals are deemed ready.

Otherwise, farmers will incur the additional cost of feeding livestock for longer than necessary.

Council will continue to maintain the cattle yards in the hope of finding a viable option to resume sales at the site, Mr Rollinson indicated.

Dingwall farmer, Colin Fenton, has previously called for a public meeting, telling the Gannawarra Times in October 2018 that farmers hadn't been consulted on the possible closure of the yards.

He suggested then that stock agents, clients, yard workers, and councillors should get together to try to keep the cattle yards running.

Mr Fenton recently expressed disappointment at the latest development, believing "people should be coming together to discuss the issue."

He considers that if the cattle yards don't reopen it will be a significant loss for Kerang businesses, with less incentive for people to visit the town.

Scanclear will also relinquish its lease on the truck wash adjoining the cattle yards, with council set to run the facility internally.

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