Will all local councils soon be exiting the livestock selling business?

WHAT NEXT: A review into the operations of Kempsey's saleyards suggested five options including an upgrade, lease or sale of the existing facility.
WHAT NEXT: A review into the operations of Kempsey's saleyards suggested five options including an upgrade, lease or sale of the existing facility.
CHANGE: The new operators of the Singleton saleyards in the Hunter Valley tookover ion July 1.

CHANGE: The new operators of the Singleton saleyards in the Hunter Valley tookover ion July 1.

Livestock selling is big business resulting in significant changes in where, how and who operates these enterprises.

On July 1 Singleton Council agreed to terms from Regional Livestock Exchanges (RLX) for a long-term lease of their saleyards. From that date the facility was rebranded and now trades as the Hunter Regional Livestock Exchange (HRLX) becoming the eighth facility in the RLX national portfolio.

Neigbouring Maitland saleyards was one of first selling centres to be privatised and that trend, started decades ago, is gathering momentum as local councils look to exit the ownership and or management of their facilties.

It follows the example set by these same councils selling and closing meatworks that used to exist up and down the coast and inland - think Maitland, Newcastle, Mudgee and Gunnedah.

Up the coast Kempsey Shire Council published a Strategic Options paper on the future of their saleyards in June this year. It included five options from doing nothing to an upgrade, building a new facility and selling the existing yards. The Council is now calling for comment on those options. Submissions close at 4.30pm on Friday, August 23.

RLX is Australia's largest owner and operator of livestock selling facilities with livestock sales across its sites exceeding $1 billion annually. The RLX portfolio currently includes sites at Rockhampton (Qld), Inverell, Tamworth, Carcoar, Wodonga (Vic), Ballarat (Vic) and Camperdown (Vic).

"Our mission is to deliver value to our clients on all levels by striving to provide industry best practice in livestock presentation and marketing to maximise returns for our clients", said Garry Edwards, Managing Director, AAM Investment Group, the operator of the facilities. "

"The RLX business focuses on developing regionally significant, modern facilities within strategic locations and as such we believe this facility in the Hunter has the potential for real growth".

Singleton saleyards now being managed by the Regional Livestock Exchanges (RLX).

Singleton saleyards now being managed by the Regional Livestock Exchanges (RLX).

"We are looking forward to working with the local livestock agents and the agricultural community within the region as a whole on a range of improvements that will benefit all users for years to come".

Singleton's saleyards underwent a $7.7 million upgrade, that included new undercover selling pens, with the majority of the funding coming from the State Government's Resources for Regions Program.

However the upgrade did not include replacing the aging kiosk, administration and amenity building or the inclusion of soft flooring in the pens which is now considered the preferred option.

Tim Gallagher, chief executive officer AAMIG,the operators and managers of the Hunter Regional Livestock Exchange (HRLX) facility said AAMIG and the Singleton Regional Council are in the process of developing a master plan for redevelopment initiatives of the facility.

"All plans are developed around key focus areas, including animal welfare, user safety and operational efficiency. Initial changes will see the introduction of soft flooring which will significantly improve the presentation and welfare of livestock," he said.

"There are no current plans in place to change the operation of the canteen, currently provided by the Lions Club."