Livestock markets are a social lifeline

As farmers become more and more isolated from each other, as well as from their customers, the importance of regular livestock markets has extended well beyond their original purpose of providing a fair and transparent place to sell stock.

That was the finding of the report ‘More than a Mart’ conducted for HRH Prince Charles’ Countryside Trust by Dr Caroline Nye of the Centre for Rural Policy Research, University of Exeter.

“The livestock auction mart is one of the few places left where members of the agricultural community can congregate together on a regular basis and share their experiences.”

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The research found that as many as 1 in 5 mart visitors attended for social reasons alone, with marts offering solutions to the issue of poor mental health within the industry – from rural chaplains based at marts, to auction mart managers who were seen as a trusted source of knowledge, to farmer networks who attend sale days.

The report urged livestock farmers to engage with support services and social activities at their mart and take advantage of events, training and other support offered by livestock markets.

Neil Wilson of the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland welcomed the recognition of the important social element and community connection as well as the many other social benefits marts provided.

But he said it was crucial that the commercial trade at the core of the business remained successful if these additional services were to continue.

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