NRLX cattle sales cancelled

Richmond Valley Council has been left with no choice but to make the hard decision to cancel next week’s sales at the Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange (NRLX) following the agents’ decision to not sign their selling permits. At issue was the fees and charges structure, in particular a new business usage fee of $1 per head of cattle. Adjustments to the fees and charges in the 2017-2018 Revenue Policy, which came into effect on 1 July, were an important step to achieving improved results for the NRLX, to enable the business to fund the loan repayments and avoid any reliance on ratepayers’ funds.

No one likes a fee increase, however, Council needs to address not only the revenue side of the business, but also the cost side to the equation. Like in any other business, Council has to have the financial means to take care of the viability and longevity of this important sales venue.

Richmond Valley Mayor Robert Mustow said Council was disappointed at having to bring this news to its highly-valued beef farming community, and the many local and regional businesses which supported the beef industry. However, Cr Mustow said without the increases repaying the loan and interest would require Council to draw on funds from ratepayers. He said Council's decision to implement the increased fees was made with the best interests of the whole Richmond Valley community in mind: “A fee structure had to be developed to ensure the NRLX operated as a self-sustaining business unit, with next to no reliance on ratepayer funds.”

Last year the Richmond Valley community made it clear that Council should retain ownership of the NRLX. This meant a number of changes for the facility. To upgrade, funding was needed. The Federal Government agreed to a $3.5 million co-contribution, meaning Council had to borrow $3.5 million to start stage one of the upgrade. Fortunately, the NSW Government has also come on board, promising $7 million to complete the $14 million project. By the end of next year, the NRLX will be recognised as one of the best saleyards in Australia with high standards of animal welfare, improved work health and safety conditions, quality effluent disposal, convenience for users, and efficient management systems.

NRLX throughput finished the 2016-2017 financial year 13.5 percent higher than the previous year. The $113,616,791 sales turnover year to date is a record result, up from $87,950,124 last year. This provides excellent returns for the region’s beef producers and businesses operating out of the NRLX, as well as delivering an important economic stimulus into the Richmond Valley local economy.

However, while recent operating results are favourable, the overall program result was a deficit of $687,614, which highlights the need to fund capital and operational expenses going forward.