Richmond Valley Council statement NRLX

Richmond Valley Council would like to see sales return to the NRLX as soon as possible, however, it needs an agent to sign a selling permit to run the sale.

Council has increased the vendor fee from $11 last year to $12.50 in 2017-2018, an increase of $1.50. Council also increased the agent’s permit fee from $10,000 in 2016-2017 to $10,500 in 2017-2018, and introduced a new $1 per head agent’s business usage fee.
Council does not charge a buyer fee, which many other yards do, as it knows the benefit to producers of having a good field of buyers at sales. The agents, however, charge a $1 per head buyer fee which assists their labour costs.

Council has been open and transparent in its dealings with agents and has met with them on many occasions over the past 18 months, and has been discussing new fee structures as far back as November 2016. Discussions have also been held with Council’s Saleyards Advisory Group which includes agent and other representatives.

Council communicated the fee increases widely throughout April, May and June with emails to the agents, via a NRLX newsletter to 950 stakeholders with copies available at the NRLX during sales, media releases which led to articles in the Northern Star and RREE, radio interviews and more. The opportunity to address Council was also available.

Yes, this increases the cost to agents, however, an assessment of revenues based on $259 million in cattle sales over the past three years and the fact they will be operating from a facility which will be state of the art following $14 million invested by the Federal ($3.5m) and NSW ($7m) governments and Richmond Valley Council ($3.5m) shows it is reasonable and affordable.

The upgrade of the facility is progressing well with Council having paid $2.8 million from its $3.5 million loan for works so far on the $7 million Stage 1 upgrade. The upgrade has required the removal of the roof over the unloading ramps which was installed a few years ago for $320,000 as part of a grant funded project. The columns and some of the other works have been incorporated into the upgrade. The old roof has been kept for re-use.

The NRLX will be fully roofed and have soft floors throughout with research showing this leads to better weight retention and improved returns for producers and therefore agents.

The fee increases mean NRLX agents will continue to operate with lower vendor and agent fees than many other equivalent facilities, and will enable Council to operate a sustainable saleyards business. Sales during July saw numbers through the yards on trend with previous years and sales completed with minimal delays.

Council acknowledges there is some inconvenience for users as one quarter of the facility is under construction. However, fees need to increase now as Council must make repayments on its $3.5 million loan. Like building a house you must pay for it along the way before you move in. Council is doing the NRLX upgrade while keeping the facility operational at a capacity which meets the needs of the market at this time of year.

Council continues to be available for productive discussions with the agents and other stakeholders as it wants the NRLX back in action for the benefit of producers across the region and the many people in the community who rely on it to make a living.

Vaughan Macdonald
Richmond Valley Council General Manager