Farmers should take advantage of the knowledge and resources available through their local livestock auctioneers and benefit from a strong home market demand, amid the disruption and chaos at ports witnessed recently, the Livestock Auctioneers’ Association (LAA) has said.

While export markets had effectively been temporarily closed by the travel bans enforced due to the impact of the new variant of Covid-19, the LAA said a strong home market demand has provided a welcome boost.

Auctioneers across the country have been closely monitoring the situation, as they have been throughout the pandemic, keeping farmers informed during the constantly evolving situation, this past week exacerbated by the delays and disruptions at UK ports.

"In this circumstance, it is the new variant of Covid-19 that has created the backlogs, delays and disruptions at our ports," explained Chris Dodds, executive secretary of the LAA.

Regardless of any trade deal, we can expect more of the same in the coming months, with the added red-tape, bureaucracy and paperwork required for exports.

Despite the challenges to the export trade at least in the short-term, Dodds said the strong home market points to the opportunities farmers can exploit, with the support of their livestock auction market.

"We have seen an excellent trade [up to] this week, and it is important this buoyant home market is supplied.

"This thriving local market will remain for the foreseeable future, particularly in light of the new tier announcements and travel restrictions."

Red meat sales boom

The LAA said that red meat sales are booming as consumers are choosing to treat themselves at home, particularly with the closure of pubs and restaurants in most parts of the country during the festive period.

It is a captive audience, and if this pandemic has taught us nothing else, it is the fact that the consumer is taking great comfort in having access to home-sourced, high quality UK produce, basing their preferences on the provenance and high standard of animal welfare guaranteed in the UK.

The LAA is working on behalf of its members and the wider red meat sector to maintain the supply chain in both home and export markets.

"Speak to your auctioneer and work with your market to be aware of demand," Dodds advised.

“Markets have been supporting farmers and maintaining a competitive trade throughout the pandemic and will continue to do so as we look ahead to the early part of 2021, and the additional challenges of a post-Brexit environment,” he concluded.