Livestock Auction closure impacts local ranchers

By: Nathan Donato-Weinstein |
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After more than 60 years, the Roseville Livestock Auction might be going… going… gone. The large-animal auction – a veritable institution on Church Street – was suspended earlier this month, said Jeff Ronten, chief financial officer at Denio’s Farmers Market and Auction. Denio’s owns the land and leases out the property to an operator. Officials at Denio’s, which owns the property, said they were still deciding on what to do with the business after its current operator, Frank Caputo, retired. “It’s probably a little too early to tell,” Ronten said. Already, the closure is putting a crimp in small local ranchers’ ability to buy and sell cows, goats, hogs, sheep and other livestock. “It’s gonna be a lot more expensive for a lot of people to sell,” said Wayne Vineyard, a longtime Placer rancher and county agricultural commissioner. “I think its’ something that’s still needed.” The business was one of a shrinking number of livestock auctions around the state – and the only one in the Sacramento area. The California Department of Food and Agriculture put the number of livestock auctions in the state at 33 this year. That’s down dramatically from surveys in previous decades. The reason partly lies with fewer ranchers as suburbia eats up rural space, as well as the increasing popularity of Internet and video sales that have made live auctions unnecessary. But local ranchers say the Roseville Livestock Auction was a special reminder of the area’s rural roots. Mike Trueblood, who helps head up the Lincoln High School Farm, worked at the livestock auction when he was growing up in the 1970s—just as his dad did. “It wasn’t a lot different than it was now, but there were a lot more cattle back then,” he said. Trueblood said his students often got part-time jobs at the auction and gained valuable experience in the ag industry. “It’s a good way to learn about different types of cattle—sexing them, sorting cattle out, that kind of thing,” Trueblood said. Memories of the livestock auction are also strong for Mitch Coppin. His grandfather was Roseville’s city clerk in the mid-1900s. He still remembers him going down to help out at the auction on weekends. Until now, Coppin, who runs small ranches in Loomis and East Nicolaus, used the auction occasionally when he needed to sell surplus sheep. With the Roseville auction closed, he’d have to drive to Orland. “When you factor in gas and the distance I’d have to go to sell these, what I sell an animal for wouldn’t even pay for the gas,” Coppin said. Jaime Salcedo agreed. He has 30 head of cattle in East Nicolaus and makes trips to Roseville several times a year to buy and sell. But he said there was something else likely to be lost if the Roseville closure is permanent – socializing among ranchers. “I can tell you there were people I hadn’t seen in years, and I know if I’d go to the auction I’d find them,” he said. Roger Ingramm oversees the county’s 4-H program as Placer’s farm advisor. He said the impact for youth in the program would be minimal, since they sell their projects at county fairs. Still, he said, “There is an impact with this closing. Where it might affect them is if they had extra animals to sell.” Ronten said Denio’s planned to clean up the property and then make a permanent decision in the weeks ahead. Caputo couldn’t be reached for comment.