Next generation auctioneers, recently recognised during a graduation and award ceremony, have been told they will play an essential role in supporting farming clients, as the industry negotiates developing agricultural policy, both now and into the future.

The on-going success of the Livestock Market Operations and Management programme, delivered by Harper Adams University since 2011, is helping to develop young auctioneers, in turn helping them to advise and support farmers, in a constantly changing environment.

That was the overriding message, as young auctioneers from Livestock Auctioneers’ Association (LAA) member markets, were joined by colleagues from Scotland, through the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers (IAAS), during the graduation ceremony, hosted by Harper Adams in January.

Collecting the Golden Gavel award for the top graduating LAA student was James Buckton of Frank Hill and Son, operating Hull Livestock Market in Dunswell, East Yorkshire.

Auctioneer James, 27, who grew up on his family mixed farm, less than half an hour from what is one of the smallest livestock markets in the country, has had an affinity with the live sales ring from a young age.

“It was maybe a little unusual in what is a big arable area, but I spent a lot of time at the market growing up, and that fuelled my interest,” says James.

While completing a foundation degree at Myerscough College, James took his first steps in the industry, working in the offices at York Auction Centre alongside his studies. He was then offered a full-time role on graduation.

He took up the auctioneering role at Frank Hill and Son a little under six years ago, in part to be closer to home, but mainly to take on more responsibility, as one of a team of three auctioneers selling prime and store stock.

Commenting on the Livestock Market Operations and Management programme, James said: “The course content is fantastic, with relevant information setting up the base knowledge, and helping to prepare for market management, looking into the future.

“With students coming from different circumstances, the networking is really valuable too. Especially as I am working with a smaller market, I have been able to transfer ideas from larger operations, scaled to our set-up and circumstances,” he adds.

Also recognised during the ceremony was 22-year-old Barnard Castle Auction Mart trainee auctioneer, Luke Scott, picking up the Dick Harrison Trust Plaque for top first year student.

A fourth-generation auctioneer, Luke says it is 'in my breeding' to follow this career path. Growing up on the family beef and sheep hill farm in Upper Teesdale, as soon as he took up the role at Barnard Castle, both he and his employers were keen for him to enrol on the course.

“I am a people person, and have been brought up to treat everyone the same way coming through the market, whatever the numbers they are bringing or buying. That, and knowing your stock, I believe to be key to my role,” said Luke.

“The course is really valuable to developing skills. It is also good to learn from others who are doing things differently. Every day really is a school day, and you can always bring in new ideas,” he adds.

During the ceremony, Kyle Hawksworth of Skipton Auction Mart was also presented with his Certificate of Higher Education in Livestock Market Operations and Management, and fellowship of the LAA, alongside James Buckton.

Associate membership of the LAA was awarded to James Cook O’Connell, Zanna Dennis, Lloyd Humphries, Martin Lloyd, Tom Pritchard and Jack Walton.

Course manager Dr Mark Simcock, of Harper Adams University said: “As agricultural policy develops, farmers are going to need sound advice from their professional advisors in the years ahead, and our graduates are now in a better position to give that advice.

“I pass on my congratulations to all graduates, particularly given COVID had slowed their progress towards completion of the programme.”

LAA chairman Alastair Brown, who presented the Golden Gavel award and certificates during the ceremony to LAA students, commented: ” On behalf of the LAA, I would like to congratulate all of our graduating students.

“It is crucial for the success of the industry that we encourage and nurture the next generation of livestock auctioneers, and by completing the course, as well as sharing experiences and ideas with fellow students and auctioneers, our new graduates are well-placed to transfer these skills to the benefit of their farmer clients.”