THERE will always be a market for the ‘live’ auction ring for breeding livestock, worried farmers were told.

An online meeting organised by the Penrith-based The Farmer Network took place after growing concerns from the farming community that it might not be allowed access to livestock auctions at the special annual sales in the autumn months.

Currently all auctioneers are asking sellers to operate on a system called ‘drop and go’.

Buyers are still able to stand around the auction ring under strict distancing and movement rules, but sellers must drop off their livestock at auctions and leave immediately without entering the auction building.

Chris Dodds, executive secretary to the Livestock Auctioneers Association, gave the 30 farmers an insight into discussions and negotiations with Defra, and the need for auctioneers and farmers to work together, taking great care in future to stick within social distancing rules when entering livestock markets.

Ted Ogden, auctioneer with CCM markets, Skipton, assured farmers that everything would be done to ensure that buyers and sellers would be able to safely enter the market in future.

The company was also exploring new ground with live streaming, timed bid auctions and other online sales.

Glyn Lucas, pedigree dairy auctioneer with H&H Group, said he was sure that the “live” ring would always be the main sales platform for breeding livestock.

However, its recent online sales during the Covid 19 outbreak had gone well, particularly in the dairy sector.

"This is a new environment and will take some getting used to but has a definite future," said Glyn.

Sarah Alderton from Penrith wondered whether auctioneers could provide guidance and support for vendors in how to photograph and present animals correctly for online catalogues as this was an essential skill to get right and provide confidence for buyers.

Richard Betton from Upper Teesdale was worried that a second virus spike may have severe implications for the autumn sales programme, which was essential to farming communities the length and breadth of the country.

Andrew Wright, from Mitchells Auction Mart in Cockermouth, said he believed that auctioneers must work together on a local basis to ensure that there was minimal disruption and uniform working practices.

Closing the meeting, chair, Adam Day, said: “Auctioneers are having to adapt to and overcome a very difficult challenge. Communication and cooperation with customers and other auctioneers will be essential over the coming months. Everyone has a duty of care”.