Farm Horizons, May 2008
Stockyard closing affects local haulers in different ways
Randy Schmidt, owner of Schmidt Trucking in Hollywood Township, was making five to eight trips per week to the South St. Paul stockyards before they closed for good April 11, after more than a century of operation.
Now, Schmidt hauls most of the animals that would have gone to St. Paul to Cannon Falls, which adds another 40 to 45 miles to each trip.
“It was nice and handy going to South St. Paul,” Schmidt said.
The longer trips increase his cost, and he has to pass the increase on to the farmers.
“The farmers have been pretty good about it. They understand that the cost of fuel and the longer trips are going to increase the cost of transportation,” Schmidt commented.
He added that the stockyard closing is just another burden for animal producers who have already been hit by rising fuel and feed prices.
“The farmers are between a rock and a hard place,” Schmidt said.
In addition to Cannon Falls, Schmidt delivers animals to Albany and Zumbrota, which are another 20 to 30 miles away.
Schmidt said in addition to the longer distance, the Cannon Falls stockyard does not have a wash rack for the trucks, which is an added inconvenience, especially for truckers who also handle freight.
He has heard that the owner of the property plans to install a wash rack, but this may not happen until September or later.
The Highway 7 construction project is also a concern for Schmidt, who is based near the intersection of Highway 7 and Carver County Road 33.
He said he hopes that the project will be complete before snow flies this fall.
Despite the inconveniences, Schmidt, who has been hauling cattle since 1974, seemed prepared to adapt and make the best of the situation.
“What are you going to do?” he said.
Other local truckers are less affected by the closing of the South St. Paul stockyards.
“It’s sad, but to us, it’s not the end of the world,” Lisa Bayerl of Big J’s Transport said.
She and her husband, Jeff, started the company in Lester Prairie seven years ago.
They were only making the run to South St. Paul once or twice per week.
“We knew that (the closing) was going to happen, and we go wherever our customers want us to go anyway,” Bayerl commented.
Most of the company’s trips are to Hutchinson or Winthrop, and, like Schmidt, they also deliver animals to the yards at Zumbrota and Albany.
Bayerl is also concerned about the affect that higher fuel and feed prices are having on the cattle industry.
“A lot of guys are thinking about getting out of steers and dairy. They can make more selling the corn in the bin. They are getting hit on both ends by fuel and corn prices,” Bayerl said.
Fewer producers makes the transportation business that much more competitive.
“We’re busy, but we really have to work to find customers and keep them,” Bayerl commented, adding that service and things like being on time are critical to her business.