At the end of May, something groundbreaking occurred for the livestock industry as Superior Livestock Auction conducted the first online fed cattle sale.
“I would say it was a very successful day,” said Ed Greiman, chairman of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s (NCBA) Cattle Marketing and International Trade Committee. “There were 1,600 head of cattle sold, which is where many sellers thought the market was going to be.”
The bigger news is that a lot of people were watching, so much so that the website hosting the sale went down as a result of too many people logging on.
“This is all about price discovery — showing people that there is a cash market out there and adding to the fundamentals,” Greiman said. “We’re not worried about how much volume is on the sale, it’s really all about moving some cattle.”
The glitches, that can be expected any time something new like this is attempted, will be worked out and Greiman said with each week that goes by, the online sales will go more smoothly.
“I talked to some farmers, like myself, that had cattle in this initial sale,” Greiman said. “We all plan to put more in the sale next week and watch this effort slowly build.”
The main goal for starting to sell fed cattle online is to provide transparency.
“Three of the major packers looked at the cattle and were active on bidding,” Greiman said. “We also saw many regional packers taking part in the sale and the best part is we saw a lot of participation. Not one packer bought all of the cattle and we also had packers selling their cattle, which is good news too.”
These new, innovative tools will lead the cattle industry in a new direction in the future and will give producers another avenue to sell cattle, rather than just putting them on a formula and handing them over to the packer. Greiman is hoping that lawmakers will take notice of the success of these new ideas for marketing cattle.
“We need to be clear to Congress that cattlemen are trying to fix their own problem,” Greiman said. “So, if we need more price discovery and the industry needs to see what fat cattle are bringing, this is one of the solutions. The best part is that this is a solution that was thought up by cattlemen who are selling the cattle.”