'A ton of opportunity,' says Kansas native who found second home in Mitchell after buying Mitchell Livestock
Jan. 27—MITCHELL — Jarridd Herrmann is no stranger to the cattle industry.
Growing up in Dodge City, Kansas, Herrmann learned the ropes of farming and tending to his family's 65,000-head livestock feedlot.
While his agriculture roots began in the south, they have sprouted north to South Dakota. In late August, Herrmann and his wife, Patrice Herrmann, bought Mitchell Livestock — a well-known sale barn that's been an Upper Midwest staple.
"It's a nice community. There is a ton of opportunity here," Herrmann said of the Mitchell area. "We're selling the best of the best right here."
The Mitchell sale barn changed hands from former owners Don Stang and Marion Rus who sold the business to the Herrmanns. Stang and Rus guided Mitchell Livestock for over a decade, but the duo was ready to hand over the reins to a young new crop of owners.
The purchase of Mitchell Livestock added a second livestock sale barn for the Herrmanns, who own a sale barn in Cherokee, Oklahoma. Although his Oklahoma sale barn is over 500 miles south from Mitchell Livestock, he saw the Mitchell operation as a way to "insulate" his cattle businesses and bring more producers together.
"We ship a lot of yearlings up this direction to be fed. I wanted to continue to grow that business, along with making the market stouter in both places," Herrmann said.
The business opportunity wasn't the only factor that led him to purchasing the Mitchell sale barn.
A climate with moderate moisture and prime cropland is something South Dakota offers that Herrmann hasn't had in the south. With the dry and arid climate in the western Kansas area, Herrmann said it eliminates the ability to grow corn and other good feeder crops.
"This move was also for weather diversification. If one barn has opportunity being in a drought, it gives one that may not be dealing with a drought," he said.
The abundance of healthy corn and other grains produced in the Mitchell area provide vital food for feeder cattle, which typically consists of steers and heifers mature enough to be fattened prior to slaughter. In his first few months of running Mitchell Livestock, Herrmann has taken notice of how big and healthy the cows and heifers are. As Herrmann put it, "You got a lot of fat cows here."
As a 40-year-old cattle industry leader, Herrmann is somewhat of an anomaly, especially in the south.
While he's used to being the young guy in the room, that's not so much the case in South Dakota. Seeing more young faces in the industry has been an added bonus that came with Herrmann's purchase of Mitchell Livestock.
"In our industry there aren't a lot of young people in it. I like the fact that there are a lot of young people in agriculture here," he said.
While the cattle industry has seen its share of volatility due to a myriad of factors, including the pandemic-induced supply chain disruptions and droughts, Herrmann is bullish about the immediate and long-term future of the cattle market.
"As far as the beef industry, I think the upcoming years are going to be phenomenal. From a macroeconomic standpoint, we're in the driver seat here. Cow numbers are down, and demand is high. Demand is high not just because of the consumer, but from these new smaller packing companies that are sprouting up," Herrmann said.
As of Thursday, prices were at $1.59 per pound for live cattle, while feeder cattle was at $1.80 per pound.
Despite the volatility in the cattle market, it remains a multi-billion dollar industry. In 2021, receipts for cattle and calves totaled $72.9 billion, according to figures provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Projections for 2023 U.S. beef production are hovering around 26 billion pounds, according to the USDA, underscoring the demand for cattle.
"There is always going to be a demand here. We can develop markets, but are they synthetic or real? This is a real market up here," he said. "As long as you have facilities, there will always be a demand."
Looking toward the future of Mitchell Livestock, Herrmann's goals are to grow the market and make it more competitive, along with providing "great customer service."
Thus far, he hasn't made any big changes to the business, which was by design.
After all, the Herrmanns came 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's sales reports.
"My goal is to make the customer service here as great as it can be. I want to keep the competitive market here and grow it and be part of the community," Herrmann said. "I want to make this place a place where employees can know they are appreciated every single day."