Auction Marts and their operations were the subject talked about on the Club’s last meeting.
Alister Reid – a club member – was introduced by President Eric Bell to inform members how the role of the “Mart” has changed in the last 60 years.
Having worked most of his life with the local Kincardineshire Mart and latterly in the Aberdeen & Northern Mart, he had seen vast changes over this period. At one time there were Marts at Fordoun, Edzell, Laurencekirk, Montrose, Brechin, Forfar and Stonehaven. Now there are two – Forfar and Thainston at Inverurie. Weekly sales where livestock were sold, traded and moved around, had traders selling grain, seeds, coal, machinery, manure, potatoes all within the Mart areas. With B.S.E. in cattle, followed by Foot and Mouth disease, most of the small Marts closed as regulations prevented livestock sales. Many Marts were closed for six months or more to contain the F & M disease. Also with the removal of all cattle over 30 months old from the food chain, this further caused changes in Mart operations along with a massive drop in income from lost sales. However, the Auction Marts now have diversified, so that many other services are also on offer. Grass lets, trading of quotas, lairage, furniture sales, farmers markets, vehicle sales and Property are only a few of the extra services now available. Movement of stock now requires animal passports, easily read ear tags and suitable trailers with ventilation and water availability to comply with regulations. All data collected must be accurate and is recorded in a massive data bank nationally. This allows traceability from birth to final death or slaughter for each animal, and will hopefully prevent further outbreaks of diseases to be contained at source. One real outcome of this legislation is that meat offered for sale today, can be traced back to its origin, its age, the farm where it was reared and when it appeared on shelves for sale. Alister’s time in the industry revealed all those changes, and with data to support all the statistics his audience were given an insight into a very important industry. Member Bob Blyth gave a vote of thanks on behalf of the club.