The Livestock Auctioneers’ Association (LAA) has officially launched the Market Prices platform, offering users a new online system for live cattle, sheep and pig prices from across the livestock markets of England and Wales.
The platform was launched on the 9th of January, guiding users through the new features and benefits of the system and the various subscription plans available, while also providing technical guidance and support.
“Our demonstration video runs through the key features of each of the subscription plans, helping to clarify exactly what is available to users,” explained LAA development officer Zanna Dennis.
“This includes continued free access to daily prices for mart customers, updated daily at noon. Users simply need to select the market they use and include their unique buyer/vendor code on the Daily Prices sign-up form, and free access will be enabled.”
The launch also confirmed that every level of subscription, including the free-of-charge weekly plan, will enable users to view prices for all individual markets, in line with the previous system.
“As an additional enhancement, all subscription plans include the four-way comparison tool, with users of the premium Real-Time Prices plan benefiting from the greatest level of insights with the ability to compare individual markets against others, or countries and regions,” said Ms Dennis.
To enable users to evaluate the enhanced data sets and monitoring tools, the LAA is offering a free, three-month trial for subscribers, lasting until the 31st of March.
Ms Dennis stressed that the platform will continue to develop, with new services and features introduced, very much based on user feedback.
“We have already received a positive response, with suggestions from users on new features they would like to see in the future, and we will continue to work with our developers as the platform builds,” she said.
Crucially, buyers and vendors using LAA member livestock markets will continue to benefit from free access to essential daily price updates.
A benefit to farming businesses
The launch event included a panel discussion with sheep farmer and podcast host Rebecca Wilson and beef and sheep farmer Mark Townley, alongside auctioneer Will Alexander of Bentham Auction Mart.
Ms Wilson commented during the discussion, “Having only gone back to the sheep on the farm a few years ago, it has been a real learning experience for me to understand what buyers want, and to talk with the auctioneer.
“That comparison between other lambs coming in, and being able to know what a good, finished lamb looks like, for me has been really important, and I wouldn’t have got that by selling through a different method.”
Mr Townley added, “For me, the benefits of using the market prices platform is deciding when to market your lambs or your old ewes, and generally looking at the market prices, and numbers in the auctions. It is a valuable tool to me. You have to market lambs at the right time of year.”
Mr Alexander cited the need for current information, with so many variables impinging on trade.
“Seven days is a massive timeframe where so much can change. It is also not a local area now, so what happens here [Bentham], can be affected by something that has happened in Devon or Cornwall, or Aberdeenshire,” he said.
Ms Wilson agreed, “If we have that technology there, and most of us do have a smartphone, it is so instant, and that is the timeframe that we actually need in agriculture to be making those decisions.
“We do have to make those decisions really quite instantly, because the margins are so small, a day difference in delaying, could make a massive difference to your overall income.”
The opportunity to bounce ideas off fellow farmers was highlighted by Mr Townley, as well as sharing and learning from experiences, while Ms Wilson highlighted the benefits the mart provides as a social hub.
“The challenges we are facing as an industry aren’t often understood by the public, or other friends outside of farming, so being able to talk to people who know [for example] cash flow hasn’t been very good, or that we have had a lot of rain recently which is really impacting things, is absolutely vital when it comes to that mental health and community side of agriculture,” she said.
“At an auction, you are surrounded by people you trust. Other farmers have been going through the same sort of issues,” she added.
LAA executive secretary Chris Dodds said: “The new platform is part of our strategic move to support the wider agricultural industry, by bringing people, auction markets and prices together in one live hub. While this revolves around the accurate and transparent collection and transfer of market sales price data, we have a much wider remit.
“Our role very much encompasses education and training, including welcoming both the next generation of auctioneers but also of UK livestock producers and all involved in the sector.
“We also continue to act as industry representatives, providing regulatory support and guidance, as well as lobbying on the industry’s behalf, alongside a wider commitment to supporting and providing a central hub to agricultural communities.”
For more information go to marketprices.laa.co.uk