Markets

Large Victorian cattle saleyard to close mid-2024

James Nason, 21/11/2023

VICTORIA’S fourth largest cattle saleyard by throughput will close in June 2024, with escalating land taxes at its location on Melbourne’s eastern metropolitan fringe forcing the decision according to its owner, the privately-owned Victorian Livestock Exchange.

The Pakenham Victorian Livestock Exchange transacts about 100,000 store and prime cattle a year, drawn mainly from Gippsland properties to the east and from the Yarra Valley to the north and the Mornington Peninsula to the south.

Managing director Brian Paynter said exponential rises in land values and a recent doubling of rates and land taxes being charged meant the decision was unavoidable.

“It became a situation where we were just not able to pass those costs onto the vendors via the agents, so the decision was fairly clear,” he said.

“It took us by surprise, we didn’t realise until we opened up our most recent council rates notice that the rates had doubled and land tax was going to more than triple, so we didn’t expect that to be the case.

“We were faced with the option of perhaps playing it out for another two or three years but it is just simply not viable, the land values were going to increase exponentially and quickly, we just couldn’t afford to hang onto it for any length of time.”

He said it was fairly evident over the past 10 years that urbanisation was becoming an increasing issue at Pakenham.

“We didn’t know when it would catch up with us but it certainly did in this new financial year.

“Our budget and our yard dues were thrown completely out of kilter, so the decision was fairly clear at the end.”

Innovation-leader

When it opened in February 1999 the Pakenham Victorian Livestock Exchange was the first privately owned, fully-roofed, soft-floored, multi-agent, modern livestock exchange in Australia. It provided the template for innovations that have shaped new saleyard developments across the country since.

The Pakenham facility replaced the Dandenong saleyards closer to Melbourne which had operated for about 20 years, which in 1987 replaced the 130-year-old Newmarket Saleyards in the inner-city suburb of Flemington.

Both were ultimately squeezed out by expanding urban development. While it was always likely that Pakehnam’s location would eventually see the VLE facility eventually fall victim to a similar fate, yesterday’s announcement the facility will close in June 2024 caught many by surprise.

Dave Setchers, livestock manager with Alex Scott & Co, Pakenham, one of the region’s longest serving private agencies, said agents thought the facility would have around 10 years left, and had been told they would be given at least two years notice before a closure was imminent.

“So to be informed yesterday that it will close in a little over six months, it was a bit of a shock.”

When the Dandenong Saleyards closed the local industry was very grateful to VLE for building a state-of-the-art facility at Pakenham, he said.

“I remember saying to myself – ‘we’ll be right here for 50 years, we’ll never get built out’.

“But you have got to navigate your way through traffic to get into the place now, so it has certainly seen a big change, the world has caught up with it.”

Mr Setchers said the loss of the facility will displace a lot of cattle in the area.

“There is a certainly a fair bit of disappointment, we’re just working through ringing everyone.

“Clients I have spoken to certainly north west of Melbourne are devastated, because it is such a great facility to sell cattle and display cattle, and just seems a real waste to knock it down.

“But I supposed that is progress, it is a privately owned saleyards, it is shareholders and dividends and people who want to see a return.”

Future of the site

VLE managing director Brian Paynter told Beef Central plans for the future of the site were still being discussed.

“The last sale will be in June 2024 and from there on we will have undertaken some marketing for the site through real estate agents and could well have a settlement date sometime thereafter.

“We don’t really know, we genuinely haven’t had any discussions with any real estate agents regarding development of the site, values, marketing.”

He said some of the materials from Pakenham will be used to help upgrade the VLE’s Leongatha Livestock Exchange at Koonwarra about an hour to the east.

He said it is VLE’s hope that many of the cattle sold through Pakenham will be moved across to Leongatha.

“We will be working with Pakenham agents to assist in moving them across to Leongatha. That is why we’re committed to developing and spending even more money at Leongatha, to build a new truck wash and new areas to hold cattle, and we will look at sale days.”

Dave Setchers predicted some cattle will move across to Leongatha while others may be redirected back to Yea or Kyneton, but transport costs could be an issue.

“There is obviously other platforms we can sell cattle, we will to try to keep the costs down for clients,” he said.

He predicted it will also force more cattle to be sold direct rather than through physical yards. “Which is not ideal, the auction system is a great thing and it certainly sets the hook price, and we don’t want to see everything go that way, but it is certainly going to have to happen.”

Alternative facilities?

A private agent-led proposal was approved by the Baw Baw Council to develop a new saleyard at Longwarry half an hour east of Pakenham in 2020. While the plan was disrupted by the COVID pandemic, it may gain renewed momentum following confirmation the Pakenham centre will close next June.

Beef Central also approached another major saleyard owner and operator, Regional Livestock Exchange (RLX), to ask if it has any plans for investment in the region, and received the following response:

“RLX recognises the closure of local livestock sale yards can be challenging for agents, service providers, vendors, buyers and the wider community.”

“While declining to comment on the closure of the Pakenham facility specifically, RLX noted that it remains committed to developing regionally significant, modern livestock facilities within strategic locations, chosen for stock numbers, transport efficiency and long-term sustainability to improve the services offered and benefit surrounding regional communities.”

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Comments

  1. Sam ITALIA, 13/12/2023

    What a shame! Has been a great saleyard over the years,I feel bad for the local agents and transporters in our area
    I went to Dandenong now Pakenham but leongatha’s just too far for us farmers on the peninsula 👎🏻

  2. DAVID SHARPE, 26/11/2023

    Farms are exempt from Land Tax. Cattle sale yards are ancillary to farms, so they should also be Land Tax exempt.

  3. C Brown, 24/11/2023

    So we lost trafalgar and traralgon sale yards in the 1990s then warragul in the 2020s and now pakenham one of the biggest in the eastern side of dandenong . This is a joke to the farming communitys in the shires of Latrobe valley , Baw Baw and Cardinia its time that all the farms got together to work out the best solution on going forward with the stock agents.

  4. Rodger Murphy, 23/11/2023

    I have fond memories of sales at Pakenham when I lived at Gembrook, seeing the urban sprawl in the 2000s I left, I hope the saleyards have a smooth transition

  5. Michael, 23/11/2023

    Well that sucks. It’s dangerous enough having those livestock trucks on the road as is. We don’t want more of them on the south Gippsland highway. Victoria has become a nation of hoop jumpers. Where rules and regulations are strangling any chance of progress. The land of ‘no’ and ‘unfortunately we’re unable to’ to any endeavour where you want to move forward. What the hell happened? After returning here from 20 years in the usa to this dead zone I cannot stand this place and making plans to go back. Australia can’t, where AmeriCAN.

  6. Chas Dale, 22/11/2023

    The Dandenong sales yards relocated and operated on Cheltenham Rd from 1958 , prior to that they were part of the Dandenong market in Lonsdale St, which sold everything, that original market started selling livestock in 1864.
    Not 20 years as a replacement for Newmarket

  7. Phil Michell, 22/11/2023

    VLE took the Warragul saleyards council used VLE so the site could be redeveloped VLE made a fortune they forced the local sellers/buyers to go to Pakenham now they are repeating the same scenario forcing the move to Leongatha and will make a fortune from selling Pakenham they have no regard that this will push up the price for everyone producers to consumers and everyone in between. We need the Longwarry development to proceed urgently give VLE a couple of years and they will close Leongatha as well.

  8. Tony Bedwell, 22/11/2023

    What is happening in this country the gready councils and state govt taxes are pricing people out of existence and urban sprawl which the govt pretends to hate but creates.

  9. Leslie Mckeon, 22/11/2023

    How can the land tax double without notification ?but then again my gas bill went up by four times the amount from the previous year. Go figure.

  10. Andrew Chapman, 22/11/2023

    It’s a shame.
    Pity Bendigo wasn’t a better cattle market
    It seems a waste sitting there idle
    Maybe Kyneton could be developed into something substantial

  11. Edward Duignan, 21/11/2023

    Save the live trade if at all possible
    We all know what the meat factory’s are capable of doing if there is no opposition.I am speaking from experience from what has happened in Ireland.So try and keep the live trade going
    Edward Duignan

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