Relationships Build Resiliency
Prolonged days of below freezing temperatures and beyond normal amounts of precipitation affected nearly 245 counties in Texas, spreading from the panhandle to the coast and down into the valley. A power grid failure left homes and businesses with little-to-no electricity or water and created added stress for those in the livestock industry.
Livestock Marketing Association (LMA) Regional Executive Officer, and Southeast Texas native, Jesse Carver says Texas generally sees a few winter storms, but the long-lasting effects of this one tested the infrastructure at many livestock auctions.
“I’ve been in the livestock marketing industry down here for a long time, as either a buyer or working for LMA, and this was the first time that we had a winter weather event where I would say 95% of the auctions in the state were closed for an extended period of time,” Carver said.
LMA members in Carthage and Nacogdoches both saw roof collapses over outdoor facilities during the recent winter storm. Thankfully, no livestock were injured during either collapse, but the destruction has threatened both auctions from conducting any normal livestock transactions or sales for the coming weeks.
“We just can’t be closed down because we have a customer base that we need to provide a service for,” Lynnelle McElroy, Nacogdoches Livestock Exchange, Inc. office manager, said.
Randy Lowery, Owner of Panola Livestock Company, Inc. of Carthage, Texas, and Center Livestock Auction Company, Inc. of Center, Texas, says the flow of cattle was interrupted even prior to the storm. Although some auctions start to reopen, livestock purchases may be down from normal.
“Our markets have experienced a little bit of a setback in price of the cattle. Our sale before the storm was impacted because people were trying to wrap up their orders, close down their operations and get ready for the storm. As markets open back up, the number of orders and participation may also be lighter because those people that usually buy those cattle and take them to pasture are just now coming back after things settle down a little bit.”
Fortunately, with the assistance of Carver and their partnership with LMA and Livestock Marketing Insurance Agency (LMIA), the auctions are already in the process of cleaning and rebuilding the sites. Carver says getting them back up and running is priority number one.
“I serve as a resource and make sure they know it is going to be alright, and together we are going to get it taken care of,” Carver said. “The best thing I can do for my customers is to help make a negative situation go as smoothly and as quickly as possible.”
Lowery says Carver’s presence and attention to the situation has expedited the entire rebuilding process.
“When we’re doing everything we need to run two separate livestock auctions during the week, having somebody to do that leg work is invaluable to me,” Lowery said. “I will get a phone call from Jesse, telling me the adjuster is coming tomorrow, and he’s lining it up, and that takes the pressure off of me, knowing things are getting taken care of in a timely manner.”
Like others involved in the agriculture industry, auctions are built on relationships. But for LMA member market owners and employees, the importance of relationships isn't limited to sale day. McElroy says she has worked as the office manager at Nacogdoches for over 20 years and has built a long-standing relationship with LMA and Carver during that time.
“I had Jesse on the phone within probably 30 minutes of when I received notification of the roof collapsing,” McElroy said. “He and I have been working together for years. He’s been very good to be there for us. If I have any questions, I go to Jesse, just to let him be the middle person to handle things with the people needed to answer them.”
McElroy says the reliability and added knowledge Carver provides his customers gives them an added reassurance.
“We understand how to run a sale every week and handle our customers, but as far as situations like this, we’re not used to it,” McElroy said. “He’s interested in the livestock marketing business, and he has that background in it also. It’s good to know you’ve got somebody to call at any time.”
In times of hardships, the agriculture community continues to rally together. But it's the value of even just one simple relationship that is critical to year-long success, in both good times and bad.
“Jesse and LMA are focused on the livestock marketing industry, so that focus and experience with what the livestock markets need lets me know they understand the business,” Lowery said. “It puts us all in one group, one family.”