ThE shock announcement that the Cowbridge Mart is to close, leaving some farmers with a 45 mile trip to sell their stock, will eat into already dwindling returns on livestock.
And now the FUW is calling for a stay of execution on the closure of the mart, which was granted a charter back in 1254 and has been central to town life ever since.
Vale of Glamorgan Council says it wants the site to create a car park for shoppers, and is not renewing the leases for local Livestock auctioneers. Although meetings have been held to discuss relocating the market, there are no firm plans, potentially leaving Glamorgan without a permanent livestock market.
“We are very concerned that this move will be the end of market trading in Cowbridge, something which will cost our local farmers, already under pressure because of uncertainty over red meat sales post Brexit,” said FUW County Executive Officer Rachel Saunders.
“Currently the site provides an opportunity to sell stock directly to buyers, but if it closes then the closest alternative is at Raglan, Carmarthen or Brecon and that will mean extra costs for our members,” she said.
Cowbridge farmers, who do not have the necessary accreditation, are only allowed to transport their stock for a maximum of 50km. This means they will have to pay additional haulage costs to sell their produce.
“We are in discussions now with the auctioneers, local farmers and with the council itself. Our very real fear is that if the site shuts down the new one will never be built, and currently it is understood that there is no guaranteed funding for the new mart.
“Our aim now is to bring together all the different parties and draw up an action plan in an attempt to ensure that our members have easy access to buyers and the long term future of agriculture in the county is supported,” she added.
The announcement by J J Morris Auctioneers that Cardigan Animal Market will also be closing this month, is another blow for the industry. According to the auctioneer the final market will be held on Monday September 9. It is believed that the closure of Cardigan mart will not affect markets in Crymych and Whitland.
The reasons for closing the mart have been reported to include rising costs, reduced animals and TB outbreaks in the area.
FUW Deputy President Brian Thomas responded to the news saying: “The auctioneers have valid reasons for closing the site and it won’t have been an easy decision for them to make. The closure of any local mart removes a vital lifeline from the community and also makes it necessary for farmers to travel far greater distances to sell their stock.
“Sadly this is a sign of the times and I fear for the future of some smaller livestock markets.”