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Working Ranch - March 2016

good group of what you’d call farmerfeeder guys. They’d have their bib overalls on and buy smaller groups of calves. They’d take them home, feed them out and take a straight truck of fed cattle directly to a packing plant.” Today, John says that fewer buyers are purchasing a larger and larger portion of the cattle coming through the yards. “Truthfully most of the cattle now are selling to bigger operations and commercial feedlots,” he shares. On the flip side of that equation, however, John notes that there are still quite a few smaller producers who will bring in eight to 10 calves at a time. “We’ve had 200 consigners at an individual sale, and you may have 1,800 head of cattle,” he explains. John feels that due to the consolidation in the industry, cattle buyers are in a position to dictate more of their needs back to the producer. along with his longtime business partner, Mervin Sexton, own and operate Manhattan Commission Company located a few miles east of Manhattan, Kansas on US Highway 24. “It’s a service,” John says. “We try to provide market news service and a place where buyer and seller come together. We always pride ourselves on selling farm fresh cattle and telling people the whole story on the cattle.” While many things regarding the beef business have remained constant over John’s 30-plus year career in livestock marketing, many things have also evolved. From his view on the auction block, he has noticed significant changes in the demographics of both the buyer and seller, and in turn what each one is seeking. “You don’t have as many of the small buyers anymore that are a farmer-feeder type guy,” he says. “When I started working at the sale barn in 1980 there was still a n the cattle business, the day the calves are hauled to town ranks as one of the most important days of the year. Sale day is where 364 days worth of work, planning, sleepless nights and long days have arrived at the intersection of where this year’s calf crop and price discovery come together and a financial value is assigned to a cattleman’s year of toil. It’s hard to think of another business where the product of an entire year’s work can be transferred seamlessly from buyer to seller in just a matter of minutes. For John Cline of Onaga, Kansas, making sure producers have a satisfying trip to the pay window after the gavel has dropped is his passion. John, Cline Cattle Company consists of nearly 300 cows and replacements spread out throughout various locations in the northern edge of the Flint Hills. “We run about 3,000 acres of ground,” John Cline shares. “About 2,400 of it is family-owned ground, and the balance is rented.” MARCH 2016 | WORKING RANCH | 55


Working Ranch - March 2016
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