With cattle struggling, new plans ahead for Britton Livestock Auction

Marshall County

Victoria Lusk

Britton Livestock Auction held its final sale early last month.

But owner Kevin Larson is excited about the things that are to come for the land that once held gates, fences and livestock.

That land is in the process of being purchased by the city of Britton in Marshall County.

“Someone wants to buy the land that you have, you need to sell it,” especially when the buyer is a growing rural town with “big plans,” Larson said.

Because the sale hasn’t yet closed, the city is not publicly disclosing what those plans are.

But, for Larson, the decision was made easier by changes in the cattle industry.

“There’s no doubt in the world that the little guy is really feeling the pinch of what it’s like to be alive,” he said.

The signs are evident that smaller ranchers struggle, he said. A guy with a few cows has a full-time job off the ranch. Fences are pulled out to make room for crops. Smaller sale barns are all gone. The small mom-and-pop deals went away, he said. And herd sizes have gotten a lot bigger.

“You see that driving through the country,” Larson said.

Twenty years ago, a guy would see 10, 20, 30 head on grass, he said.

“But 90 percent of those people are gone,” he said.

But it’s not just about the little guy.

“A lot of big producers do a good job, and there’s still a fair number of cattle across the country,” he said.

That number might not be the same, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s less beef, he said.

That’s because carcass weights have increased. Essentially, more pounds are being raised with fewer cattle, he said.

The Britton Livestock Auction was still making money, Larson said, but the number of cattle sold each sale had decreased significantly.

The grand opening at its current location was Nov. 16, 1944, according to The Britton Journal.

“For us, it’s a business decision ... their check was good and they offered the asking price,” he said. “I’m really happy someone can use that land. It’s pretty darn good for the city to step up.”

The city of Britton expects the sale to be final in the next couple of weeks, said Marie Marlow, city finance officer.