Council’s latest move on NRLX is a decisive one

Council has responded to the public meeting in Casino on September 4.

Susanna Freymark

What next for the NRLX?

Richmond Valley Council has released a Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange Future Options report to be discussed at the council meeting on Tuesday, September 19 at 6pm at Casino council chambers.

IndyNR.com would like to sit down and interview council’s general manager Vaughan Macdonald and Casino Auctioneers Association president Andrew Summerville and ask questions about the NRLX dispute.

So far, neither has agreed to do an interview.

Instead, agents and council have separately released various statements about the standoff.

Here is our summary of the latest report from council.

Casino’s saleyard has been owned by the council since 1985.

At the public meeting on September 4, cattle producers and others in the audience made it clear they did not support council’s vision or management of the NRLX.

The council report states that a “seventh failed attempt” at seeking a resolution with agents means council has had to look at a different long-term solution.

The report recommends council proceeds to an open market tender process for an appropriately experienced entity to run the NRLX in the long term.

Mr Macdonald has said the NRLX continues to run at a deficit.

More than 40 saleyards have closed their doors since 2007.

“The saleyards industry is experiencing major change, with smaller, council-owned facilities being the first commercial casualties,” the report said.

The council has done a business plan for the NRLX but it is commercial-in-confidence so is not available to the public.

The plan is intended to make the NRLX financially sustainable and proposes changes to give the council more direct control of services such as its own livestock team to manage cattle after they have been sold by agents.

“This system is in place in eight of the top 10 saleyards in Australia,” the report said.

Agents would continue servicing their clients from the field, using local transporters and drafting cattle into the selling pens.

This change in council using its own livestock team after the cattle are sold is a contentious issue for the CAAI and one the agents have said they refuse to negotiate on.

The new fee proposal is one council thinks is fair – 0.2% of sales revenue. Agents do not agree with this fee change.

The council report goes into detail on what has happened so far in the agent licensing process.

The agents have disputed the amount of consultation and the way the licence process has been handled.

The debate about what was said or done doesn’t help the NRLX open again. Council believes the best way to do this is to lease the saleyards to a private entity similar to the way it leases its quarries.

This ensures a positive return for ratepayers, the report stated.

You can read the full report here.

IndyNR.com invites any of the agents to contact us to have a say about the report. Email indynr.com@gmail.com

We will be at the council meeting covering the response to this report and other items council has on its agenda.

We do not have an affiliation with council, the agents or farmers. Our purpose is to serve the readership of Richmond Valley and Kyogle LGAs as best we can.

IndyNR.com has published 22 stories so far on the dispute. You can read them here.

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