Casino livestock agents and the Richmond Valley Council have agreed to resolve their two-week impasse over an increase in fees and charges at the Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange (NRLX), meaning weekly sales to resume at the centre from this Wednesday.
Both parties met last Friday and say a ‘middle ground’ compromise was reached to allow sales to return.
Agents had refused to support higher agents and vendor fees introduced by the council in July to pay for a $3.5m council loan, which the council had taken out to help fund a $14 million saleyard upgrade which is currently underway.
Agents said it was unfair for the council to charge increased selling fees while half the yard capacity was unavailable due to the renovation works, and expressed concern about the scale of the new fees imposed by the council.
When agents refused to sign selling permits under the new fee structure, the council took the dramatic step two weeks ago of suspending sales at the centre due to the lack of agreement.
In Friday’s meeting the Council agreed to a 50 percent discount on the $1.50 increase to vendors for the period of the Stage 1 construction, which is the selling side of the facility and scheduled to be completed early next year.
It also agreed to a 50 percent reduction in the agents’ business usage fee.
The new charging structure in the amended Council’s Revenue Policy 2017-2018 for the Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange are as follows:
Effective from 1 July 2017
- vendor usage fee is $9.90/head
- vendor capital levy is $1.85/head
- Total vendor fees $11.75/head
Effective from 1 March 2018
- vendor usage fee is $10.50/head
- vendor capital levy is $2.00/head
- Total vendor fees $12.50/head
Effective from 1 July 2017
- Agents’ business usage fee is $0.50/head until the completion of an operational review of the NRLX by 30 June 2018.
Richmond Valley Council’s General Manager Vaughan Macdonald said the Council had reconsidered the feedback received from agents, vendors and the wider community.
He said it was critically important that the council and all NRLX users worked together to reach a decision on the impasse sooner rather than later.
Mr McDonald said the amendments to the Revenue Policy were “a significant concession provided by Council” and said it would hopefully see sales return to the NRLX in the very near future.
Mr Macdonald said saleyards were being modernised across the country with private investors recognising the value of a high-performing operation.
He said the council’s original decision to increase fees to vendors and agents had followed an assessment of revenues received from the users of the facility. The council believed its Revenue Policy is in the best interests of the whole community, he said.
Mr Macdonald said agents and vendors can also expect a refund of $0.75/head for any cattle sold at the NRLX since 1 July 2017.
He said these changes would see a decline in the overall financial performance of the facility, which would need to be closely monitored, and other efficiency opportunities explored.
The Council and the Casino Auctioneers Association have also reportedly agreed to a full operational review of the NLRX, to be overseen by a recognised independent saleyards industry expert, as well as the NRLX Saleyards Advisory Group, which includes two agent representatives.
A draft report will be prepared and released for community consultation, with the review due for completion by 30 June 2018.
Casino Auctioneers Association president Matt McCormack told Beef Central today that agents had agreed to the new terms so sales could resume.
“We’re not 100 percent happy with it but for the good of the community and everyone involved we have decided we will agree to it, but there is further work to be done.”
Sales will resume in the centre this Wednesday, September 6.