Equity Livestock – Closer To IA Market Opening

It’s been several months since members of the Equity Cooperative Livestock Sales Association found out they were the successful bidders for an idle livestock yard on the north side of Maquoketa, Iowa. Since then, works been moving forward at a robust clip to try and install a new scale system, and to renovate existing structures and office space. Curt Larson, President and CEO of Equity Livestock, says he’s optimistic that they’ll be able to start bringing cattle and buyers together by late summer or early fall.

Larson said the community was very supportive when they found out another association within the region would be taking over operations. At one time, Larson said the livestock yard was moving anywhere from 3,500-4,000 head of cattle through the barns in a day. Although the facility was state-of-the-art when it was built back in the 60’s, it needs a “facelift” to conduct business today. Larson says geographically speaking, the location’s great! He notes that Jackson County, where the sales barn sits, is surrounded by 5-6 counties that currently house around a half a million head of cattle. He says if you broaden the scope into nearby Illinois, there’s another couple thousand head there as well.

Larson said if they were to try and build a facility of this size and scope today, it would cost an estimated $6-8 million. That makes this acquisition very attractive, and also affords the Equity Cooperative board time to make the necessary improvements without doing it “while under construction”.

Now – what about buyers? Larson said everyone knows there are markets that struggle to try and get buyers attention, but he thinks with what they’ll offer as far holding capacity – the new location should generate excitement and interest. Larson sites one example. “They’ve got stadium style seating, it’ll hold about 400 people,” far more than Larson anticipates needing. Still, it’s more comfortable than cramped spaces buyers would have to occupy.

Larson says that Equity plans to add their proprietary livestock marketing software system, and participate in community outreach to educate neighbors on their services. He says it’s not just about adding a market to the area, but cultivating a foundation for shared success and a more connected agriculture community.