Farmers, crofters and auctioneers are being encouraged to share their views on livestock marts as part of a new study commissioned by the Prince’s Countryside Fund.
The fund, established by the Prince of Wales in 2010, provides more than £1.2 million each year in grant funding and aims to enhance the prospects of family farming businesses and the quality of rural life.
It has commissioned academics at the University of Exeter’s Centre for Rural Policy Research (CRPR) to carry out a study of the social benefit, functions of, and prospects for, livestock auction marts in the UK.
The study, which is jointly financed by the fund and the university’s John Oldacre Endowment, will examine how a viable, socially responsible and vibrant livestock auction mart sector can be encouraged and supported.
“We understand that auction marts are often at the heart of their agricultural communities. However we are aware of the difficulties that many of these businesses are facing,” said Claire Saunders, director of the Prince’s Countryside Fund.
“We hope that this research will offer practical recommendations to help them prepare for the future and ensure their long-term survival.”
Professor Michael Winter from CRPR called for as much evidence as possible from everyone in the livestock sector.
He said: “We are anxious to hear from all those with a stake and interest in the future of livestock markets in the UK to help us identify examples of good practice as markets adapt to changing demands and circumstances.”
Livestock Auctioneers Association executive secretary, Chris Dodds, welcomed the study and said livestock markets were vitally important in ensuring the continuation of sustainable agricultural and wider rural communities.
Evidence can be submitted to the study here.