2016 has been another year of growth for Sedgemoor Market and I would like to thank all vendors for their continued support writes Robert Venner, Partner with Greenslade Taylor Hunt, who run the successful auction centre.

Although farming generally went through a ‘sticky’ year. Milk prices were very low; finished cattle prices fell away - and then recovered; and lamb prices held their own when compared with a very poor second half of 2015; - vendors came to Sedgemoor to achieve the best price they could for their stock.

One vendor of store cattle from Cornwall said to me that having looked after his cattle for two years, he feels that when he comes to Sedgemoor he has done everything he can to ensure he achieves the best price possible. That along with checking that I have been in contact with previous purchasers of his cattle, which I will have duly done.

This understandable drive to achieve the best price possible has seen Sedgemoor’s throughput increase by 7.2% during 2016. Store cattle numbers have increased by 7% as more vendors come forward from South of the Tamar and East of the Severn. The number of calves sold has also increased, as vendors appreciate that the effort of going to market is more than rewarded by a trade fuelled by competitive demand.

The throughput of suckler cows has continued to thrive as vendors support the monthly-catalogued sales. These sales have seen a 13% annual increase as vendors relish the opportunity of displaying details of their stock, such as health status, pregnancy diagnosis and pedigree in our catalogue, which is distributed in advance of the sale.

The sheep section has seen considerable growth. Store lambs up 12%, couples up 35% and grazing ewes up 17%. Competition and demand has driven those increases.

Any buyer who wants to come to market can, as there are few other markets held on a Saturday. This is particularly significant when it enables buyers to attend from as far afield as Yorkshire, Shropshire, Pembrokeshire, Cambridge, Suffolk and Norfolk; hence maximum buyer attendance and the best price possible on the day.

Values however have been variable. Store cattle values rose through January and February and then fell away until the end of April. Trade climbed again to July and plateaued until late October. The seasonal drop being delayed this year due to an unseasonably mild back end.

As an exporting industry, Brexit and its immediate effect on the value of the pound was always going to have a significant impact. As our lamb trade is built on exports, Brexit brought an instant fillip to trade. The second half of the year saw a much-improved trade when the annual “Derby Day” collapse did not materialise. However when considering the lamb trade it has to be borne in mind that the second half of 2015 was awful.

Dairy cattle have seen their values pinned to the milk price and as the milk price has been shocking for many this year, dairy cow values have been much reduced. As the non-aligned milk price for the majority  of producers is improving and forecast to improve further quite rapidly, we can look forward to re-newed enthusiasm around the dairy ring.

All in all 2016 has been a pleasing year for us here at Sedgemoor Market. Although values and hence commissions have been down, more vendors have come to us for the first time and will hopefully continue with us as they have obviously found the service we provide of  sufficient value to warrant the extra distances travelled.

We pride ourselves on the service we offer our vendors. Our motto is: “Sedgemoor – Serving the South West’s Farmers”. My team and I look forward to welcoming all vendors, both existing and new, to Sedgemoor throughout 2017.