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Saleyard stalemate has been broken

Richmond Valley Council is proposing to halve the new agents business usage fee in order to resume cattle sales at the Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange, Casino.
Richmond Valley Council is proposing to halve the new agents business usage fee in order to resume cattle sales at the Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange, Casino. Susanna Freymark

CASINO saleyards will start trading again tomorrow, following a unhappy compromise between warring sides over a proposed new fee structure.

Last Friday Richmond Valley Council reluctantly decided to halve its proposed agents' business usage fee of $1 per animal in order to get the Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange back up and running.

Initially the Casino Auctioneers Association said it would reject the offer but by yesterday had grudgingly accepted it, saying the saleyards stalemate had "done too much damage already".

"The community is the main part of our thoughts and for the good of everyone we will accept it," president Matthew McCormack said.

The auctioneer said he was unhappy with how the council handled the deal, saying despite meeting on Wednesday the council sprung the policy change on the association with little time to look it over.

They had no choice but to accept the new fee offer, Mr McCormack said.

For the past two weeks the council and auctioneers association have been at loggerheads over the new charge, resulting in the five agents refusing to sign permits and council responding by cancelling cattle sales.

The saleyards will open tomorrow but no-one is sure if there will be too few or too many cattle.

"It's up in the air how many we will have," Mr McCormack said

"It has been dry and we haven't had sales for two weeks."

As for the new fees, every cent an agent gets is from a vendor, he said.

"At the end of the day the vendor pays the agent," he said. "We don't get money from anywhere else, we don't have a slush pile."

The new agents' business usage fee will last until the completion of an operational review of the saleyards in June next year.

The agents refused to pay the $1 fee, saying it was "unfair" and would have a severe impact on their businesses, while council said the charge was crucial for it to meet its repayments on the $3.5 million it had borrowed as part of a $14 million upgrade of the saleyards.

General manager Vaughan Macdonald said council's amendments to its Revenue Policy were a "significant concession provided by council".

"The amendments provide a 50% 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," Mr Macdonald said. "A 50% reduction in the agents' business usage fee will also reduce the impact on the agents' business operations and hopefully get them back selling at the NRLX."

Topics:  casino saleyards northern rivers business northern rivers livestock exchange


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