by Neil Wilson, executive director of the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland (IAAS)
AT Scottish auction markets in 2023, auctioneers across all of Scotland’s marts saw an increase in both buyers and sellers around the ring.
Prime cattle and sheep sales continued to do well, and prices were strong.
Despite the lack of sectoral confidence surrounding future Government support and longer-term policy guidance, mart throughput held up well, with sales exceeding £600m in 2022. Once again, the industry’s recognition of the value of the live ring was demonstrated in the stats – both animal numbers and values were up in 2022, and the indications are that 2023 will at least have held up that trend in terms of values, with spring store cattle sales having what is known in the market as a ‘flyer’. Which was great to see as it ensured that enough value was flowing back down the chain and into the primary producers’ bank accounts and encouraging farmers to put the bull out for another year.
Unfortunately, processors and retailers found reason to reduce finished prices during the summer, however with the rebound in price as we headed into the back-end sales calendar, there was a strong uptick in store cattle prices, while suckled calf sales drew in some tremendous stock which made terrific prices.
As we look ahead to 2024, IAAS will continue to champion the livestock sector and work with integrity to deliver great value for sellers and wide choice for buyers, ensuring that our trade can continue in the most effective way possible.
The market price availability will change during 2024, following changes to contracts that have been dominantly outwith IAAS’s control. However, we know how important this data is and are committed to working with the wider farming industry, and stakeholders, to deliver an accessible way of being able to provide market prices from the marts across Scotland.
Auction markets will continue to be a key part of the livestock farming sector well into the future. At their core, markets exist for commercial purposes. However, they are real social hubs as well.
Stripping it right back to the bone, the word ‘mart’ means a coming together of people to buy and sell. Life on a farm can be isolated, and our markets still have a crucial in-person social role.