I don’t know about you, but I have all but given up on watching the news on television and reading the newspaper. It’s not because I prefer to check the weather and sports scores on my smart phone, it’s because it seems like the airwaves and news pages are filled with mostly negative stories.
However, the other day, for some unknown reason, I picked up the newspaper and on the front page in ALL CAPS and big blue letters was the word cattle, and right below the headline was a photo of a sale ring full of cattle. So of course, I read that particular article. In the end, I’m glad I did. It made me not only proud to be an Oklahoman, but proud to be in the cattle business.
Most of you are aware of the fact that in May the state of Oklahoma got hit hard by a string of severe tornadoes. Most of you probably saw the hours upon hours of live coverage regarding the two elementary schools that got hit. (I know some of you did, because you called to check on things.) What most of you probably don’t know is that one of the nation’s busiest livestock barns, OKC West Stockyards in El Reno, also took a direct hit from an EF5 tornado. (For those of you who don’t live in tornado alley, that is as strong as they get.) That particular tornado is the one that killed several storm chasers, which of course is what all the media outlets picked up on.
Because of the day of the week the tornado hit, only 160 cattle and 13 employees were on the premises. The article said that all employees and cattle survived, but all four buildings were demolished.
This particular article focused on the fact that the sale barn was rebuilt and opened back up for business a mere 60 days after the tornado hit. It talked about the improvements made to the facility in terms of added cameras, storm shelters, etc. Most definitely a newsworthy item in my book. The part of the article that caught my attention was something I had heard about through the “cattle grapevine” but didn’t have a lot of details about.
For the two months OKC West was non-operational, Jerry Nine of Woodward Livestock Auction in Woodward, Oklahoma, a mere 130 miles away, allowed Bill Barnhart of OKC West to auction his customer’s cattle through the Woodward barn and KEEP the commission.
Yes. You read that correctly. The owner of a competing sale barn not only offered up his facilities, man power, etc. to a competitor, he let that competitor keep the commission. In the end, those commissions added up to $89,000, along with another $23,000 in donations collected at the Woodward barn.
I have said it before and I will say it again. All Limousin breeders, regardless of what kind of Limousin they raise, should have each others back. The same can be said for all cattle producers, as well as all of us in production agriculture. We have enough other outside influences trying to chip away at our way of life, we shouldn’t be helping them accomplish their goals from the inside.
And it shouldn’t take a devastating event that makes the national news to make that apparent.