Standoff at NRLX is a serious situation for the community, council says

The NRLX at Casino has been empty of stock since June 30.

Susanna Freymark

The standoff between agents and Richmond Valley Council’s Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange has seen little movement in more than three weeks since its last sale on June 30.

Casino agents have been selling cattle through Lismore Saleyards since that time.

The gates to the NRLX are shut and the yards are empty of the smells and sounds of cattle.

The Casino Auctioneers Association made up of five agents has not responded to our repeated requests for an interview or statement about the standoff.

Agent Darren Perkins spoke on ABC Radio on July 10.

Council issued a statement today, Tuesday, July 25 signed by all councillors.

Here’s a summary of what is in the statement:

“It has been disappointing to have no sales at the NRLX due to agencies deciding not to sign a licence agreement to operate at the facility. This is a serious situation for our community that we, as councillors, would strongly prefer did not happen.

“Council set the NRLX fees and charges back in March 2023 after a two month public consultation period, with no submissions received from any agencies. Council has not received any specific proposals for amendments to those fees and charges to the date of this statement.”

The agents have not responded to’s request to comment on this. Did they raise concerns with the council?

Much, but not all of the dispute is about money.

The council said the NRLX is a community-owned facility that has had more than $15 million invested in it by the three levels of government – state, federal and local.

This includes $3million RVC borrowed on behalf of ratepayers.

The NRLX has generated sale revenues for farmers and agents of more than $500million over the past three years.

Now that’s a lot of money.

Yet the NRLX currently operates at an operational deficit, council said.

“The changes the council want to introduce are aimed at moving the deficit towards a surplus, so that reserves can be built up for future investment in the NRLX, eliminating any financial burden on ratepayers.”

Council offered licences to sell at the NRLX in line with industry standards, the statement said.

This included a change in fees.

Council has moved to a percentage-based agent use fee.

This is a system widely used in saleyards across Australia, council said.

The fee is 0.2% of sale revenue. This means when stock sell for $1000, NRLX receives $2 from agents for the use of the yards.

This issue requires a response from agents. Is council asking for too much? Is it a fair request but agents don’t like the changes? has no judgment on this but would like to know the issue agents face with this.

Another sticking point to the changes proposed by NRLX is the handling of the cattle.

Agents have managed the cattle in and out of the saleyards.

The NRLX has been busy hiring new people to manage the stock after the sale and on their way out of the saleyards.

The statement today addressed this.

“Council has established a 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, according to council.

“Agents will continue servicing their clients from the field, bring livestock to the saleyards using local transporters, receiving and drafting them into selling pens and running the auction,” council said.

“Our team will support the sale process through pre-sale scanning to speed up the administrative and weighing processes as well as enabling more live streaming of sales.”

The council is liable for any safety incidents at NRLX and for animal welfare standards.

The statement said this is why the council wants greater control of the sale day operations.

The cost of this handling by council would be $8.80 a head.

Mr Perkins said agents do this at a much cheaper rate.

“We can do it for $4.60–$4.80 a head and with a lot more experienced people,” Mr Perkins said.

Council’s statement ended with the reminder that “councillors are elected by ratepayers and residents and have the responsibility under the Local Government Act to manage council’s assets in a financially sustainable manner”.

“In 2016, after public consultation there was support for the council’s decision to operate the NRLX, invest in it, and run it as a financially sustainable business, instead of selling or leasing the facility to a private operator.”

The new licence fees are the next step in the improvement process, the statement said.

“Council will now engage with agencies who express interest in the facility, and who are willing to embrace a modern way of operating a quality saleyard for the benefit of all producers and everyone involved in the beef industry in the Richmond Valley and across the Northern Rivers,” council said. is keen to publish the agents’ response to this statement.

Agent Darren Perkins said that was not possible to do that today.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, July 26, Casino agents will be selling cattle from the Lismore Saleyards.

The only sale to go ahead at the NRLX will be the Casino All-Breeds Sale on this Saturday, July 29. This sale benefits three local charities and council waives its fee for that special sale.

Stock to be sold at the Casino All-Breeds Sale on July 29 at NRLX.

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