Why marts matter more than ever in the Dale

Pateley Bridge and District Farmer's Auction Mart - directors David and Judy Middlemiss.  (130316M1c)
Pateley Bridge and District Farmer's Auction Mart - directors David and Judy Middlemiss. (130316M1c)

Farmers across Nidderdale and Harrogate are benefiting from a sharp rise in prices after the horse meat scandal shocked consumers across the UK.

At Pateley Bridge’s fortnightly livestock auctions, prices have risen by as much as meat companies turn to suppliers closer to home to to fill their products.

pat  Pateley Bridge and District Farmer's Auction Mart feature.  (130316M1e)

pat Pateley Bridge and District Farmer's Auction Mart feature. (130316M1e)

The price of “cull cows” – dairy cows that have come to the end of their useful life - has risen by 25-30p per kg, or as much as £200 more for an average cow, according to auction directors Judy and David Middlesmiss.

“Prices have shot up in the last month,” David said.

It is a combination of the horsemeat scandal, and the affects of the Schmallenberg virus which has hit sheep flocks across the country over the last year that has caused the increase.

“Schmallenberg has reduced the number of spring lambs on the market, so the supermarkets are promoting last year’s lambs - what we call hogs.

“In the short term, that’s good. It’s definitely better for farmers.”

Judy and David sit on the board of directors at Pateley Bridge Auction Mart, along with fellow farmers Tom Martin and John Dodsworth, where they have worked hard over the last eight years to pull the mart back from the brink of collapse.

Around eight years ago, the Pateley Bridge’s auction mart was struggling with a turnover of just £360,000.

After years of hard work, investment and improvements the mart faces a stronger future, and this year recorded a turnover of £6million.

Judy, who serves as the board of directors’ chairman, said dragging the mart back from failure has been a “labour of love” for her and David.

“We want to keep the auction going for the younger generation, and we believe it helps the town as well as us.

“When buyers come here on a Saturday they bring their wives who go shopping in in the town,” she said.

And with the fuel prices on the increases they believe keeping the smaller markets open is better for farmers who won’t have to travel as far to sell their animals, Judy added.

To make its dramatic turnaround the mart has invested in new technologies – including a computer display system for the sale ring, and improved its facilities.

Where it used to have only six indoor pens for animals waiting to be sold it now has a large covered area for farmers to store their animals.

When nearby Ripon Auction Mart closed its doors, the Pateley mart bought a lot of its pens and brought them back to Nidderdale to improve their own facilities.

And as well as matter the mart serve farmers better Judy, David and the other directors have looked for income streams from outside agriculture.

The auction mart now boasts a car wash, opened several years ago to serve the town, and auction’s Teacups cafe is now open full-time.

Pateley Bridge’s success where many have many other local auction marts have failed comes, Judy and David believe, from the amount of goodwill towards the mart in the community.

“We have kept going because we have had a lot of voluntary help and a lot of support from farmers which all keeps things going.”

All four of the directors also work voluntarily, while running their own farms around the Dale.

Looking to the future, Judy hopes the mart will keep serving the farming community for a long time to come, and are looking for help to make sure it does.

“We are looking for some younger people to step up and take things on,” she added.

“The stock work is heavy work, and we want some fresh ideas. David and I aren’t getting any younger.”

Market report - March 16 2013

The auction saw forward 18 cull cows, 62 store cattle, 7 young bulls and 18 store sheep.

The sale sponsored by G H Brooks and The Barker Partnership saw these prices:

Cull cows average price £925.90 (137.12p/pk)

Top price cull bull – JL&MR Umpleby £1680 (160 ppkg)

Top price cull cow – B Kellet & Sons £1143.10 (142 ppkg) Top price pence per kg

D Clarke 170p.

Other chief prices: F&B Scatchard £1092.10, JL&MR Umpleby £1064, G Abbott &

Sons £1007.50, £811.30, B Kellet and Sons £962, £931.60, £768.80. D Clarke £952, RJ

Challis & Son £900, £866.20, N J Ward £868.75, £868, G Sanderson and son £756.40,

£731.60, B G Chandler £649.80 & D Wensley £609.50.

Store Cattle

Bulls average price £605

Chief price – GH Wardman & Co £705

Other chief prices: GH Wardman and Co £695 x2, £660, £610, £420, D Wensley £450.

Steers average price £948.65

top price – JAS Church £1250

Other chief prices: JAS Church £1155, £985, £955, £870, £855, £825, £475, F&B

Scatchard £1235, JD Crabtree & Son £1190, DT & LA Houseman £1180, £1075, D

& JL Middlemiss £1145, £990, D Clarke £1140 X 2, W Furniss & Sons £1115 X 2,

£800 X 2, NP & JR Fulford £980, £620 X 3, D Wensley £860, T B Martin £670.

Heifers Average Price £879.31

Top Price: Price – JD Crabtree & Son £1215

Other chief prices: J R Hargreaves £1165 X 2, £1135 X 2, £1125 X 2, £1095 X 2,

£925 X 3, DT & LA Houseman £1100, £1000, £950, £940, D & JL Middlemiss

£1000, £800, D & D Prince £780 X 2, SJ Burton £670, £640 X 2, £590, T B Martin

£640, £600, RA Wintersgill £480 X 2, £380.

Store Sheep average price £39.67

Top Price – C Motley £66.50

Other chief prices: AM and SM Binnington £60, £24, £15

Weekly prime collection

Forward 1185 incl 112 Ewes

Lambs: Texel: C Hall £91.20, Leeming Livestock £90.30, RMP Richardson £79.55,

G and G Schofield £76, PB and D Addyman £76, D Pearson £56.10,

Suffolk: R Greenwood £93.15, R Hargreaves £74,

Cheviot: R Greenwood £90.

Mule: Leeming Livestock £89.30, JW Stockdale and sons £88.20, R Hargreaves £88,

G and G Schofield £83.85, JW Hall £79.55, D Pearson £75.60,

Horned: JW Hall £81, JH and JA Graham & Sons £77, P Ewbank £74.40, Leeming

Livestock £70.20, M Ewbank £68.20, D Pearson £66.30, M R Burrill £64.60, J S

Wood £57.50, A C Ward £54.40, W and PB Walker £51.20.

Ewes: Polled Hornby Farms £71, PB and D Addyman £51.20

Horned: P Ewbank £17.60, M Ewbank £17.60.