Smart Marts

Smart Marts

Following HRH The Prince of Wales’ visit to Louth market in March 2018, the Fund has been keen to look at how the vital social role of markets can be supported. We know that there are a number of markets which have diversified to offer far more to the local farming and rural community than purely venues for the sale of livestock.

A research project jointly funded by The Prince’s Countryside Fund and the John Oldacre Endowment at the University of Exeter is an opportunity to showcase the potential for markets to realise the full extent of the service that they provide to the farming community and to ensure that they are in the best position possible to be able to offer the support that the industry requires during this period of transition.  Working closely with the Livestock Auctioneers Association, the researchers will look at ways of helping to develop the role of livestock markets as hubs for the rural communities in which they operate. This feeds into the wider objective of The Prince’s Countryside Fund to focus on the viability of the supply chain in 2020.

This project aims to contribute to, what is currently, a limited existing body of knowledge regarding the social role of auction marts within rural communities. It builds upon a previous report (Rickard 2019) which examines the economic and social value of AMs. Employing both a ‘broad and shallow’ approach using quantitative data collection, and a ‘narrow and deep’ insight through the adoption of qualitative methods, this study will allow for a holistic understanding of the role of AMs from the perspective of all (sampled) relevant stakeholders.

The research will aim to:

  •  Examine the social value of auction marts and their value to rural communities in the UK, particularly in areas where smaller farms predominate, over and above their purpose facilitating the sale of livestock
  • Explore the opportunities available for AMs to increase their value to their local rural communities
  • Highlight examples of good practice, identifying AMs successfully employing a number of functions over and above the sale of livestock
  • Further to these aims, the project will seek to identify the challenges faced by auction marts in the contemporary domain, as well as determining any constraints faced by those working in agriculture with regards to the use of healthcare services, training and formal service provision which might be facilitated by auction marts.

Research team: Dr Caroline Nye, Prof. Michael Winter and Prof. Matt Lobley Centre for Rural Policy Research, University of Exeter.

Following the completion of this research in Spring 2020, the Fund will be offering a limited number of grants, for marts to implement recommendations from the report.