Ron Hays Visits with LMA President Tom Frey on Auction Barn's Function in True Price DiscoveryTue, 02 Oct 2018 13:13:17 CDT
The Livestock Marketing Association hosted one of its premiere events, the Midwestern Regional Livestock Auctioneering Championship, this week in Holdenville, Okla. The contest showcases auctioneers’ skills in facilitating price discovery at the auction barn. This contest attracted over 30 contestants, 10 of whom qualified to compete at the World Championship that will take place this coming June in Tulare, California. Iowa auctioneer Russele Sleep was named champion with Dustin Smith of Jay, Okla. who auctioneers at the Fort Smith barn and Dakota Davis of Caldwell, Kansas also qualifying. During the event, Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays had the chance to visit with the president of the LMA, Tom Frey, a livestock auction barn owner from Southern Iowa. You can listen to their complete conversation about the LMA and its mission to represent livestock marketers and their interests, by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below.
Frey’s operation was purchased nearly 20 years ago when his family relocated from Ft. Collins, Colorado. The business is family operated and sells approximately 60,000 head of cattle each year with two sale days held each week throughout the fall and spring. As a firm believer in giving back to the industry you make your living in, the decision to move through the various leadership roles within the LMA’s governing board was an easy one he says.
“It’s been an honor to serve and do my part,” said Frey. “I can’t imagine being in the business we’re in and not being a part of the association. It’s a big part of what we do. They take care of a lot of things we have to deal with on a daily basis, from insurance to representing us to the government on regulations- it’s nice to have somebody watching your back.”
Frey himself, once competed in the LMA’s auctioneering contests, earning several honors between the 1980s and early 2000s. He says that while the contest has always been a fun event to participate in, they also serve a very important purpose.
“It’s the highlight of what we do every day,” he said, remarking that it continues to be the preferred method of marketing for livestock producers particularly feeders and stockers. “True price discovery is only found through the auction. I guess you’d call it tried and true. It’s been here since the dawn of time.”
But not unlike other industries, the livestock auction has certainly seen its fair share of change over the years. Frey admits there isn’t a rush in stakeholders’ minds to fix things that aren’t yet broken, but uses as an example the rise in popularity of the order buyer which he says has fundamentally changed the face of the business.
“A lot more of the business is done from an order buyer, where 20 to 30 years ago more farmers attended the auctions themselves,” he said. “Now, it’s about as easy for them to hire an order buyer and let them buy the cattle for you so you don’t have to take up your time being at the auction every day.”
Also on the forefront of change though is the growing appeal of traceability. Frey points to this issue as a perfect example of why livestock marketers should join the LMA.
“We understand better than anybody the impact that a foreign animal disease would have on the livestock industry,” Frey contended. “That’s why LMA has been at the table, making our voice heard in those talks, because the hard part of that is going to fall back on the auction markets to have to tag those cattle that aren’t tagged.”
You can listen to Frey and Hays speak more about the livestock marketing business and the burdens the industry is tasked with carrying, by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below.
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