Casino Saleyards.
Casino Saleyards. Susanna Freymark

Why saleyards are an integral part of the Northern Rivers

AFTER an impressive year, Richmond Valley Council has reiterated its long-term support of the Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange, commonly known as the Casino saleyards.

Over the past financial year, the saleyards moved to fifth position from seventh in NSW for throughput, and had a gross turnover of almost $88 million.

More than 1000 buyers were on hand to bid for the 107,462 head of cattle which passed through the facility.

Dubbo (236,651), Wagga Wagga (187,105), Carcoar (146,667) and Tamworth (112,118) hold the spots ahead of Casino.

In even better news for stakeholders and the community, figures show 2016-2017 is well ahead at the same period, meaning more cattle are being sold at the NRLX, at record-high prices.

Richmond Valley Mayor Robert Mustow said after a process which considered the future options for the NRLX, Council committed in May to retaining the saleyards in Casino.

Cr Mustow said there was solidarity among all councillors to keep the yards and run them as a sustainable business.

He said Council wanted to develop a leading edge facility and leave future generations with a facility which paid its own way and had sufficient reserves to fund necessary upgrades and avoid the recent challenge to secure Federal Government funds for the much-needed upgrades.

He said it was Council's vision that the NRLX cemented its place as the premier livestock selling centre on the NSW North Coast, and established itself as a leader in the Australian livestock selling industry.

"It's a very important facility to Casino and the Richmond Valley local economy, and it's also a great hub for farmers to come to and have a yarn," Cr Mustow said.

"Council appreciates the solidarity of the agents in supporting the saleyards over many years and we look forward to the NRLX continuing to grow into the North Coast region's premier livestock exchange."

Council's General Manager Vaughan Macdonald said the economic benefits from the livestock exchange were critical to the prosperity of the Richmond Valley community, and planned upgrades would modernise the facility, making it the leading saleyards on the NSW North Coast.

Mr Macdonald said the upgrades and move to a sustainable business model would benefit all stakeholders, and see a positive flow on effect for the local community.

He said the NRLX was Council's largest generator of economic activity, and the forthcoming upgrades were a once-in-a-generation opportunity to cement Casino's place as the Beef Capital of Australia.

He said the Federal and NSW governments recognised the NRLX as critical infrastructure for the North Coast region, and Council valued its partnership with both governments.

The $7 million upgrade is being funded $3.5 million by Council, through borrowings under the NSW Government's Local Infrastructure Renewal Scheme, and the Federal Government providing $3.5 million under its National Stronger Regions Fund.

"The Richmond Valley community derives significant direct economic benefit from the NRLX, such as local growers having a facility close to their operations, transport operators who move stock and purchase fuel, locals who work there, agents who use the yards, and the businesses who support the NRLX operations and its users," Mr Macdonald said.

"There are also substantive indirect benefits which flow to the community through increased business transactions and services, which are required to service the families who live in the area because of the saleyards, and the additional activity that takes place when people outside of the area attend sales."

Mr Macdonald said improved animal welfare standards, through soft flooring and a fully-roofed facility, would see cattle under less stress when passing through the facility, delivering a healthier end product for the buyers.

He said the NRLX would become a more attractive proposition to buyers, which in turn benefited producers.

"We want all Northern Rivers producers to choose the NRLX to trade their cattle as they achieve better returns," Mr Macdonald said.

"Given that Council is looking at a fully-roofed facility, the upgrade will also create a more comfortable experience for its stakeholders.

"As far as Council is concerned, the facility is here for the next 50 plus years. It's in a great position; we have secured funding for essential upgrades, and we are very happy our animal welfare issues are going to be looked after. It will also improve the environmental performance of the saleyards leaving neighbouring facilities in its wake."

Council has received numerous tenders for the design and construction of the upgrades. The Tender Review Panel is currently going though these, and hopes to reach a recommendation for Council by mid-December.

Key strengths:

  • Geographic location
  • Reputation - good buyer support
  • Renowned vealer market
  • Notable sales price performance
  • Quality of livestock presented
  • Northern Rivers based agents
  • Efficient truck wash facilities
  • New infrastructure
  • Self-contained operation
  • Drives significant economic activity in the area
  • Proximity of abattoir (Northern Cooperative Meat Company)
  • Council-owned and operated

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