This has been a year like never before, but thankfully many of the farming community are still here to see it. Auctioneers and farmers around the country are resilient to everything that gets thrown at them (and often does).
There has been no better year to prove how strong the industry is and that we are needed to feed the country and world.
In the livestock markets, auctioneers have given many people hope and optimism to keep fighting for what they believe is the best products in the world and to keep producing quality stock.
Regular headlines have boasted livestock markets are seeing record prices in many breeds and flying trades, which has given many farmers enthusiasm to expand their businesses.
It is pleasing to see numbers of stock have improved this year at many livestock markets, we have seen a vast increase in throughput in cattle and especially sheep in comparison to previous years, which could have been completely the opposite.
As lockdown came and many shops, restaurants and pubs were closed, along with transport and export becoming more difficult than usual, we all thought that we would be in for a tough time.
But, surprisingly enough, prices lifted and demand was exceptional for the time of year, even with all the masks and social distancing.
Many local butchers and farm shops saw queues of new customers out of the door and down the street, giving a real boost in their takings and putting many of them back on the map.
That educated many customers about how good British food is, which is fantastic for the UK economy.
This triggered the smaller local wholesalers and abattoirs to increase their throughput, meaning these shops, apart from home-reared animals from their farms, were looking to source their local beef and lamb from these outlets.
This caused buyers in the livestock markets to purchase some different types, not just the usual specifications of meat that have to fit in the right sized plastic containers or they get penalised for weight, size, fat, quality and so on.
Again, this helped the producer in these difficult times with ever-increasing feed and bedding costs for finishing animals to the right specification.
This year has seen a huge amount of confidence in purchasing breeding stock, which has come off the back of the good trade we have seen this year.
European production and stock numbers are decreasing and we are increasing. This could be great news for the UK economy and especially with Brexit, just around the corner again.
This will hopefully enable us to be a major player in the world's food production as a country and increase exports rather than relying on imported food with often lower standards than those we have to adhere to.
Sales have been very interesting this year, with many companies turning to internet sales, either live or timed.
That is one way of keeping an open and transparent transaction, but hopefully when we get back to some kind of normality, we will appreciate the buzz of the livestock markets, meeting with new and old friends talking about the good times around the ring or in the cafe, along with being able to see your stock sold at the best price on the day. That is what auctions are all about.
Once again, as many auctioneers writing these articles have already said, a huge thanks must go to Chris Dodds on behalf of the Livestock Auctioneers' Association, who has been in discussions with Government to ensure livestock operations stayed open during the Covid pandemic, unlike many businesses involved in the food industry which have had to close during lockdown.
I will sign off by wishing you all stay safe and well in these current conditions. Do not forget all the hard work you put in to producing some of the best food in the world. Please market your stock by supporting the livestock markets, as they have supported you.
Alastair Brown is a senior auctioneer at Bletsoes. Call 07885 804 450, or email [email protected]