Livestock Auctioneers Association liveweight data update

Friday, 19 January 2024

On 31 December 2023, the contract between the Livestock Auctioneers Association (LAA) and AHDB regarding the cleansing and provision of England and Wales liveweight data ceased.

We are aware that this change has created several questions regarding the position of AHDB and why this change has happened. This statement outlines the key questions and the positions of AHDB within this process.

We are committed to ensuring that levy payers have access to independent market information that does not hold a commercial bias.

We will continue to process and publish all other outputs, including the deadweight cattle and sheep price information each week. We will also continue to provide insights into the markets through our regular publications, analysis pieces and outlooks.

Who started this process?

Over three years ago, the LAA approached AHDB to discuss how it could take more control of its data and benefit from the perceived inherent value the data creates.

Over this period, there was a long-running discussion on how a new arrangement could work. In December 2022, LAA decided to move to a new data processor which would allow it to commercialise its data, meaning a proportion of the industry will be required to pay to access the information.

We were, and remain, disappointed that we will not continue to provide quality market prices as we have done for many years. As a not-for-profit levy board, we felt it would not be appropriate for us to be involved in a commercial venture of this nature.

Did AHDB walk away from LAA?

No. LAA asked us to put a paywall on our website for access to its data, and for us to share data of levy payers, using the previously publicly available dataset, for LAA to build its commercial charging model.

This was a 'red line' we could not cross, as it would mean we would be using levy payer funds to help build a commercial product which would then charge levy payers again. As a public body, this is something which we could not support.

We offered alternative approaches as to how the relationship could work which would not impinge upon our public body status. However, these were not agreeable to LAA and, as such, LAA moved the data processing to a third party.

Did AHDB help LAA build its new system?

In 2023, there was a transition period where we continued to cleanse and produce the data while LAA built its new system. We provided LAA with data which was owned by LAA in order for it to check the accuracy of its new system.

We were conscious of the use of levy-funded staff time to essentially "subsidise" the build of a commercial system and so we restricted our support activities to issues that were appropriate and proportionate.

As a public body, we are not permitted to use public funds to help create commercial concerns.

Is AHDB going to publish liveweight data again?

We are currently in conversations with alternative data providers to ensure that we have a provision of liveweight market analysis for levy payers.

We have asked LAA for information regarding a licence to use its data and are awaiting a response.

All data that we purchase must be accurate and correct. We will not purchase any data where we are uncertain of the quality to protect levy payers from making misinformed decisions.

If you have any further questions, please contact our Economics and Analysis Director David Eudall.

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David Eudall

Economics & Analysis Director

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