It’s always pleasing to have hard work acknowledged. And the positive feedback that the professionals working in Scotland’s auction marts are receiving right now is well deserved.

Across the livestock industry, we’re hearing how relieved producers and buyers are that we have been able to maintain competitive trade in the live ring throughout the coronavirus pandemic. It has also been nice to see endorsements from others in the industry, including NFUS. Our members really do appreciate this.

By nature, our auctioneers are quick-thinking. But the speed at which they have reacted to the steps which had to be taken to hold sales, while embracing innovation and delivering strong results, has been an important reminder of their vast knowledge and resilience.

That’s paying off for everyone who trades with our members.

We have this week seen much welcome significant rises in both the deadweight price of clean cattle and in the live trade for cows, while store cattle and sheep prices have been relatively stable for a number of weeks.

The return of breeding sales to the live ring has been widely welcomed with stock meeting a good trade, whether that be for ewes with lambs at foot or breeding cattle.

That’s a strong story economically but it’s also an important one in animal welfare terms, resolving any concerns which may have emerged around breeding stock being stuck on farms and the impact that would have as we go through the year.

Meanwhile marts have embraced social media not only to share key messages and answer questions, but to keep competitive trade going with the likes of bull sales – which we cannot currently hold in the live ring – highlighting online options they have developed to ensure the best prices possible. Like they do when selling from the box, they are ensuring the best values of fairness and transparency.

Looking ahead, we’re aware that it doesn’t feel as though it will be that long until we get through the summer and the start of the big lamb and breeding stock sales of the back end. With this in mind, we are actively planning for this and are talking to the Scottish Government about how they could operate.

While pleased with all we have managed to achieve so far, our members appreciate people are eager to know the next steps. Rest assured, we are completely focussed on securing stability for consumers and the best possible prices for farmers while safeguarding public health.