There were a million reasons to smile at the Grafton Saleyards on February 9 as the strong trend for bullocks continued, local cattle producers enjoyed pleasing results and an exciting announcement was made in between the falling of the gavel as stock entered and exited the sale ring.
As a cattle producer himself, Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan describes the industry as one which is close to his heart, and he spoke with pride and passion as he announced a $1 million grant to fund stage one of a four part upgrade to the Grafton Saleyards.
Mr Hogan said the upgrade will include the installation of a new double deck unloading ramp, modification of pens, gates and laneways and a new six-way air draft to assist with drafting, mouthing, weighing and tagging cattle, along with upgrading aging infrastructure and improving sale processes.
There will also be upgrades to scanners and scales to improve weighing speeds, upgrades to existing CCTV cameras and the development of an Adverse Events Plan.
“We’ve just gone through one of the worst droughts we’ve ever seen, and this industry and the community faced some great challenges,” Mr Hogan said, before revealing the $1 million was given to Clarence Valley Council (CVC) through the drought stimulus package and they, in turn, are giving it to Grafton Saleyards.
As he acknowledged CVC, Mr Hogan said they were appreciative and “very aware of the importance of the cattle industry to the wider community.”
“I’m really delighted that council have decided to spend the money for drought recovery on this asset,” he said.
The announcement was also described as a big win for local cattle producers by Mitch Donovan, Principal of Ray Donovan Stock and Station Agents who was present at Grafton Saleyards.
“This is the best thing they could have done and it’s good for a lot of people, I’m sincerely pleased,” he said.
CVC Mayor Jim Simmons said the Grafton Saleyards “need a fair bit of work done”, adding the $1 million grant under the Drought Communities Program will help council to make that possible.
“It’s great for the saleyards, the local farmers, our wider community and the commercial and retail area because it will bring a lot of money into Grafton,” he said.
Just shy of 50,000 head of cattle with a combined value of over $41 million were sold through Grafton Saleyards during the 2019-2020 financial year.
There were over 350 head of cattle at Grafton Saleyards when the announcement was made last week, with a majority of the stock being sold to producers from out west who are continuing to restock their properties.