MITCHELL — Jarridd Herrmann is no stranger to the cattle industry.
Raised in Dodge City, Kansas, Herrmann learned the rudiments of farming and tends to his family’s 65,000-head cattle ranch.
While its agricultural roots began in the South, they have sprouted as far north as South Dakota. In late August, Herrmann and his wife, Patrice Herrmann, purchased Mitchell Livestock, a popular barn for sale that has been an Upper Midwest staple.
“It’s a beautiful community. There are a lot of opportunities here,” Herrmann said of the Mitchell area. “We’re selling the best of the best right here.”
The Mitchell Sales Barn changed hands from former owners Don Stang and Marion Rus who sold the business to the Herrmanns. Stang and Rus have been running Mitchell Livestock for over a decade, but the duo were ready to hand over the reins to a young new group of owners.
The Mitchell Livestock purchase added a second livestock sale barn for the Herrmanns, who own a livestock sale barn in Cherokee, Oklahoma. Although his Oklahoma barn is over 500 miles south of Mitchell Livestock, he saw the Mitchell operation as a way to “isolate” his livestock operations and bring together more producers.
“We ship many one-year-old puppies this direction to be fed. I wanted to continue to grow that business, as well as make the market more robust in both places,” said Herrmann.
The business opportunity wasn’t the only factor in his purchase of the Mitchell Sales Barn.
A climate with moderate humidity and prime farmland is something South Dakota offers that Herrmann did not have in the South. With the dry, arid climate in western Kansas, Herrmann said it eliminates the ability to grow corn and other good feed crops.
“This move was also for weather diversification. If a barn has an opportunity to be in a drought, it gives one that may not have to deal with a drought,” she said.
The abundance of healthy corn and other grains produced in the Mitchell area provides vital food for feed stock, which typically consists of steers and heifers mature enough to be fattened before slaughter. In his first months of managing Mitchell Livestock, Herrmann noticed how big and healthy the cows and heifers are. As Herrmann said, “You have a lot of fat cows here.”
As the leader of the livestock industry for 40 years, Herrmann is somewhat of an anomaly, especially in the South.
While he’s used to being the young guy in the room, he’s not so much South Dakota. Seeing younger faces in the industry was an added bonus that came with Herrmann’s purchase of Mitchell Livestock.
“There aren’t many young people in our industry. I like that there are a lot of young people in agriculture here,” she said.
While the livestock industry has seen its share of volatility due to a myriad of factors, including pandemic-induced supply chain disruptions and droughts, Herrmann is confident about the immediate and long-term future of the livestock market .
“As far as the beef industry is concerned, I think the next few years are going to be phenomenal. From a macroeconomic point of view, we are in the driver’s seat here. Cow numbers are down and demand is high. Demand is high not only because of the consumer but also because of these new smaller packaging companies that are popping up,” Herrmann said.
As of Thursday, prices were $1.59 per pound for live cattle, while feed cattle were $1.80 per pound.
Despite the volatility in the livestock market, it remains a multibillion-dollar industry. In 2021, revenues for cattle and calves totaled $72.9 billion, according to data provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Projections for US beef production in 2023 are around £26 billion, according to the USDA, underscoring demand for livestock.
“There will always be a demand here. We can develop markets, but are they synthetic or real? This is a real market up here,” she said. “As long as you have facilities, there will always be demand.”
Looking ahead to Mitchell Livestock’s future, Herrmann’s goals are to grow the market and make it more competitive, as well as provide “great customer service.”
So far, it hasn’t made any major business changes, which was expected.
After all, the Herrmanns have gotten into a business that’s a well-oiled machine and sells anywhere between 260,000 and 300,000 head of cattle each year, according to Mitchell Livestock sales reports.
“My goal is to make the customer service here the best it can be. I want to keep the market competitive here, make it grow and be a part of the community,” Herrmann said. “I want to make this a place where employees can know they are valued every single day.”