The decision to cancel the Kelso Ram Sales due to social distancing being required has resulted in sheep producers are having to face alternative ways to market and choose breeding stock for their herds.
Clydesdale & Yorkshire Bank (owned by Virgin Money plc) has been supporting their sheep farming customers during this challenge, while also focusing on the sector’s longer-term resilience through efficient and sustainable productivity for their flocks.
Brian Richardson, Head of UK Agriculture at Clydesdale & Yorkshire Bank, commented on the atmosphere in the farming community following the cancellation: “For our sheep producers, the breeding sheep and Tup sales are always a key focus of their year. With the impact of COVID-19, and required social distancing this autumn, they will not quite be the same type of social gatherings. It is not just the business side of things that motivates the sellers, auctioneers, bidders and breeders, but the great craic and camaraderie of the farming community and this will be sorely missed.
“Physically seeing sheep and getting that feel for the trade is obviously still important to buyers and sellers, as is the backup that marts bring to the customers around payment and dealing with any disputes. E-commerce, and the selling of breeding sheep virtually, has seen some growth this year, although perhaps not at the pace many may have thought would happen following the COVID-19 restrictions on livestock marts. I am sure that electronic selling will continue to grow, but probably complimenting the auction mart trade rather than taking over from it in the long-term.”
Mr Richardson added that with market demand looking good for the time being, it has given some confidence for the future, setting the stage for the success of the alternative autumn Tup auctions, arranged across the country to replace the Kelso Ram Sales.
He said: “Resilience is often a word used about the farming industry and the supply trade has adapted very well to these new set of circumstances to keep everyone safe. As technology continues to improve and internet connection strengthens in rural areas, the marts look ready to keep innovating and meet the demands of both buyers and sellers. As a Bank supporting the agricultural sector at all levels, our aim is to strive to offer services to bolster resilience, and help farmers think about long-term strategies for their businesses.”