Call for rules on truck weighted basis

By Iain Hyndman

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David Cotton is calling for a Code of Practice to deal with potential problems caused by truck weighted private livestock sales. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
David Cotton is calling for a Code of Practice to deal with potential problems caused by truck weighted private livestock sales. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

An independent Wanganui livestock agent is calling for a code of practice to deal with disputes over private sales on a truck weighted basis.

River City Livestock principal David Cotton said examples in recent weeks could almost drive a man to drink and highlighted the need for guidelines to handle discrepancies during the process.

"I commented in August about an issue facing the stock and station industry - the private sale of livestock on a truck weighed basis and the issues that this causes for vendors, purchasers and the agents," Mr Cotton said.

"I would like to thank those farmers and agents who contacted me and gave me their opinion on the issue. There were some positive suggestions that came out of this, which I will follow up on. However, I was disappointed not to hear from any of the carriers.

"This last week or so has highlighted the problem for me. Most truck weighing does go smoothly, however, I believe we need a uniform system to ensure fairness to all parties and for everyone to understand their responsibilities.

"When it goes wrong it seems to me that everyone else is to blame and no one is prepared to hold up their hand and be accountable."

Mr Cotton shared two examples of this over the past few weeks.

"There was one line of bulls in the Rangitikei that were quoted on the basis that the farmer/vendor would farm weigh the bulls between 280kg and 320kg, with an expected truck weight of around 300kg quoted at $2.50/kg.

"This was duly done. I inspected the bulls on the farm, with an average farm liveweight of 304kg. With modern technology and smart phones, the vendor's weights were emailed to the purchaser with a photo of the bulls and a description. The bulls were put back in the paddock in three separate lines depending on whichever quoted weight they had come from, there being different mobs."

The following week, Mr Cotton said, the bulls were picked up, truck weighed and sent to their new home in the Hawkes Bay. Twenty-one of the bulls on the truck weighed 307kg and 21 of the bulls on the trailer weighed 228kg, giving an average of 267kg, remembering the lightest bull was 280kg on farm.

"They arrived in the Hawkes Bay at the purchaser's property approximately 8 o'clock that night and the purchasing agent was notified that there was a potential problem with the truck weight. The purchaser re-weighed the bulls on his farm the next day and noted that they had been mixed. As you will know with Fresian bulls, they ride each other. The farm weight the next day was 283kg and the purchaser said 'that's all I am prepared to pay on that weight'.

"The purchasing agency said 'it's nothing to do with me', the carrier said 'it's nothing to do with me', and the vendor said 'I expected to be paid around 300kg which was the agreement, I agreed with him'.

"The carrier asked the purchaser if he could pick the bulls up again and re-weigh them, but the purchaser would not allow this to happen as he said that he had drenched them and taken them to the back of the farm. "About this time I reached for the Panadol along with a stiff whiskey. After a couple of days of negotiation the vendor asked for the bulls to be returned. The purchaser said this was not an option as he had drenched them, grazed them for a week, and wouldn't let them be uplifted unless a $50/head fee was paid to him in advance. I again reached for the Panadol, but it was a little too early in the day for whiskey," Mr Cotton said.

Earlier that week he had shown a client 23 yearling steers that had been farm weighed at 275kg.

"I had luck on my side as the cattle were not far away from his own farm, so he inspected them himself. He was happy with the cattle, happy with the price, and they were uplifted and delivered the next day. The weight note that came back from the carrier showed the average weight to be 506kg. In the back of my head I am thinking about what I often hear people say: 'these agents get their money too easy' - yeah right!

"So, I have added a note to my Code of Practice to form a policy on 'Disputed Truck Weights' and a process to resolve this issue. I am happy to hear from anyone, including carriers, that would like to help me draw up a Code of Practice. The moral of the story always keep good whiskey handy," Mr Cotton lamented.

Meanwhile, he said the last couple of weeks have been cooler and with ground temperatures falling the grass has slowed up.

"Those on the front country have had lambs nibbling at the grass to add to the pressure. On top of this, paddocks have been sprayed out for barley and green-feed crops. It is amazing just how much ground has been turned over in the last week, removing ground and grass available to other livestock. Couple this with the high Kiwi dollar breaking over the 80c barrier applying pressure to all the store markets for both sheep and beef.

"The contract lamb price at $6.25/kg certainly looks attractive compared to the spot market," he said.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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