Hard decision made to cancel Wales and Border Ram Sale

15th June 2020

Following the NSA Wales and Border Ram Sale Committee recent decision to cancel both the Wales & Border Early, and Main, ram sales that are held at the Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker is keen to update members more widely on the situation and comments: “ Since it became clear that the Covid-19 lockdown measures were going to have a long term impact on sales and shows all three of our ram sales organisers (Wales and Borders; South West Region; Eastern Region) have met regularly, and with their respective committees, to assess the situation and to explore ways for the sales to continue. Everyone is aware that the situation is changing quickly and that as the weeks go by, as long as there is no new spike, we will see some levels of relaxation to allow business activity to take place, but we also strongly suspect that while there will be a relaxation that allows things to open up the distancing requirements are very likely to make things difficult. We are also aware that members that make use of our ram sales need to be able to make decisions, and to be able to do this they need us to make decisions. So, it was with real regret and a heavy heart that the Wales and Border committee decided that neither of their sales would go ahead this year. Our three other sales, South West at Exeter, Devon, on Wednesday 19th August; Eastern region at Rugby, Warwickshire, on Friday 28th August, and at Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, on Tuesday 15th September are all very much planning to go ahead with live sales, and the question is being asked why can three go ahead and the other two not? The answer does need some explanation; Because all these sales are very different and the sales are all organised by committees that have a high level of autonomy and different issues to deal with. In particular, while our South West, Rugby, and Melton Mowbray sales take place in livestock markets, working with one auction company, and with relatively small numbers of rams, our Wales and Borders sale is held on the Royal Welsh showground where the loading and unloading facilities and the infrastructure including the rings is all temporary. The site requires temporary licensing and there is no infrastructure to help create one way systems or support social distancing. The Welsh sales are further complicated by their scale and the numbers of rams being sold and the fact that there are multiple rings selling at the same time and at the main sale, more than 15 different auction companies involved. The logistics of all this mean that social distancing requirements would be difficult if not impossible, and in addition there is evidence that many farmers will be too nervous about Covid-19 to attend. The Wales and Borders sale organiser Jane Smith is acutely aware that the decision, supported by many, will also frustrate some vendors and buyers who rely on the sale and to this end Jane is creating a register of vendors that we hope will help people sell and source rams on line for this season. We are also aware that there are discussions and plans being made by auctioneers to hold smaller sales at market venues and we are sure these will help. They won’t however replace the NSA sales, where purchasers can buy rams of multiple breeds that are all independently checked for fitness and to be true to type in advance of sale. I am pleased that we do have three sales running this season and can also state that the Wales and Borders sale will be planning to be back next year where we hope once aim to play a significant part in the seasonal ram sales.”