Analyst Intel

26 March 2021

ACROSS THE RAILS | The week sale yards closed

By Suz Bremner

History was made a year ago when the country went into lockdown as covid-19 took hold, and all sale yards across the country were forced to shut their gates. This left a sense of bewilderment and confusion, and as Hawke’s Bay also headed further into drought, a sense of helplessness.

Even good old kiwi ingenuity and the No8 wire attitude could do little to rectify the situation – though there were plenty of farmers and stock agent companies willing to try.

For seven weeks livestock selling had to occur without the convenience and competitive environment that the sale yards provided.

In the first few weeks of that period, prices for most classes of stock took a hit and then plateaued. With limited benchmark pricing to work off, the markets found themselves in no-man’s land. And as Level 2 and the reopening of the yards drew closer, trading reduced to just a trickle as both sellers and buyers who could afford to, opted to ride out the lockdown until the sale yards reopened.

Online platforms were suddenly pushed into the limelight over that seven-week period though, and some continue to this day. They have found their place within the sale yard selling system as some yards become hybrid – livestreaming sales and taking bids from both within the rostrum and online.

But the sale yards were not only missed for the purpose of selling livestock. They were also missed as a social point for farmers to catch up and spin a few yarns. 

For those reasons it came as a relief to all when the sale yards were finally able to reopen mid-May last year, and they have not looked back since. Roll on a year and the sale yards are once again a hive of activity, as the lockdown and subsequent closure of the yards firmly cemented their place in our agricultural industry.