Lewis and Harris Auction Mart has seen an unprecedented surge in bookings for early sales this season, with Brexit uncertainty fuelling some of the rush to sale.
The first sale of the season, of lambs and sheep on Wednesday August 28th, closed to bookings more than two weeks before its expected close date of August 21st, having reached sale capacity of 4,000, mostly lambs.
Mart director Kenny Macleod said: “It’s a very unusual situation. Closing a sale two weeks ahead of deadline has never happened before and the second sale, on Wednesday 18th September, is already more than half full.
“That’s the sale that is usually choc-a-bloc and which usually closes early, so I urge crofters to make their bookings as soon as possible to avoid being disappointed.”
One driver for the stampede to the sales is the continuing uncertainty over Brexit, according to Kenny. He told welovestornoway.com today (Thursday August 15th): “I think people are looking to sell earlier because some of the lambs do go to the European market and after October 31st, if there’s a no-deal Brexit, we could be looking at a 45% tariff to sell to that market.”
The auction mart is run for the community of Lewis and Harris by the volunteer directors of the Long Island Rural Trust, after it was purchased in 2005 with assistance from the Scottish Land Fund. It is run through their wholly-owned trading subsidiary Lewis and Harris Auction Mart (2005) Ltd and sales are conducted by Dingwall and Highland Marts.
Online booking for the September 18th sale is open now at https://lewisandharrisauctionmart.co.uk/index.html.