Iowa/Minnesota: Lack of buyers forces temporary closure of local livestock markets

Lack of buyers forces temporary closure of local livestock markets

Ross Becker

Created: April 10, 2020 07:00 AM

(ABC 6 News)-Livestock producers in southeastern Minnesota and north Iowa have nowhere to sell their livestock right now. For the first time since 1947, both the Decorah Sales Commission livestock auction and the Lanesboro Sales Commission auction are suspended. The Lanesboro auction was set for today, Friday, April 10 and for Decorah on Tuesday, April 14.

Joe Nelson, owner of the Commission said he started getting calls from meat processors who said they would not be attending the auctions. He told ABC 6 News he did not want producers bringing hundreds of head of livestock to the auctions in a panic buy and he had no one there to buy. Meat packers are struggling to keep up with labor demands as their workforces shrink due to the COVID-19 virus. The pandemic is also causing less demand for meat nationwide and around the world particularly the choice and prime cuts of beef used in restaurants.

Nelson posted on his company website a quote from a buyer saying we will all get through this, “everyone needs to stay calm, slow down, and don’t panic.” He said he hopes to take a break from the auction for just a short time and then open again in a few weeks. “It’s a moving target everyday”, he said referring to the pandemic and its effects.

Prices for livestock are dropping, too. Many dairy farmers, facing the prospect of having to dump milk because the dairy markets are shrinking, are selling their dairy cows for meat.

Nelson said, “I can’t do anything for anybody right now, but I wasn’t going to just sit here and take it and not at least try to help.” He is pleading with consumers to go back to the basics and put a great ribeye steak on the grill and don’t panic.