VERNON – A couple of cattle industry veterans are stepping in to fill the void left by the recent decision by Armstrong-based Valley Auction to eliminate cattle sales. Mike Nikolaisen and Mark Canart are in the final process of closing on a property in the North Okanagan/Kamloops area to set up a cattle buying station to operate as Western Livestock Marketing Solutions.
Some 60 ranchers attended meetings in Rock Creek and Vernon in late July where Nikolaisen and Canart’s son, Aaron, explained the proposal.
“We really believe there is a need to serve local producers,” says the younger Canart, who is the spokesman for the group. “We didn’t want to sit back and wait for something to happen.”
“Either one of these guy could have set this up themselves but if together they represent 20 or 30 yards, they’re much more capable of giving the producer the best price,” Canart adds.
The group is quick to stress they are not looking to replace BC Livestock.
“We all need BC Livestock,” says Canart. “In fact, if we don’t think we can do the best service for you, we will send you to BC Livestock.”
But an alternative that creates some healthy competition in the industry is always good, Canart points out.
“This is a local solution to a local problem. There are not enough marketing options for producers. Taking all the cattle to one sale barn one day a week – is that enough choice or is it a monopoly?”
“We think that local producers should have choices in their tool kit,” he adds.
He says a small facility will be flexible enough to handle both big and small orders. Arrangements can be made to co-ordinate with the buying station to meet at a convenient time.
“With the big barn, if they don’t have enough cattle, they might postpone the sale for a week and if there is a snow storm, it might not go the next week either.”
Nikolaisen and Mark Canart probably bought 70% of the cattle at Valley Auction and both have 30 plus years experience.
“As buyers in the business, they are in the market daily,” Aaron points out. “At the auction, they work for the yard to try and buy the cattle for the lowest price. At the station, it will be the reverse and we work for the seller to get the best price.”
That best price comes from knowing the market and the producer.
“We know you and we know your cattle and if they check out as you say they do, you should have an idea of the price when you back into the yard. And as a bonded facility, you will have a cheque in your hand as you drive away,” Canart adds.
Being in the market continually also allows them to know where to move a specialty item.
“You can tell us, ‘This is what I’ve got; what is the best way to deal with my situation?’” says Canart. “If you have grass fed beef, we probably know a spot for that.”
“At the same time, we will tell you so-and-so has been buying those at the auction and I don’t have that much money for them right now, so take them to the auction.”
Canart says they have a variety of options they can offer for trucking and they could even agree to meet at another ranch.
“When you work with the sale barn, their service begins at the door of the barn. With us, we could start working with you at the ranch,” he says. “We could even set up temporary corrals a couple of times a year at a more southern location.”
“We weigh and inspect the animals, load them on the truck and you are on your way.”