April 8, 2008 / 8:52 PM / 10 years ago

Minnesota cattle yard to close after 120 years

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A stockyard in Minnesota that has been in existence since 1886 and for several years held the title of “world’s largest livestock market” will shut down on Friday due to high operational costs, the company said.

South St. Paul Stockyards will hold its final “end of an era” cattle sale on Friday.

Stockyards have been on a steady decline across the country as meat companies bypass middle men and obtain supplies directly from producers, industry sources said.

Last month, an Illinois livestock auction house shut down after 10 years of helping to sell cattle, hogs and sheep amid rising costs and direct deals between packers and producers.

Jena Swanson, marketing and advertising specialist at South St. Paul stockyard’s owner, Central Livestock Association, said: “We’re closing the location because of the high operational costs of being located in the metro area.”

Founded as the South St Paul Union Stockyards Co in 1886, the facility is located a few miles across the river from downtown St. Paul. It was the world’s largest livestock market from 1974 to 1981.

Central Livestock Association has been in the process of selling and dismantling the site for the past 16 months. The land has been sold and there are plans for a new industrial area to be developed there.

The CLA owns and operates four other livestock stockyards located in Albany and Zumbrota in Minnesota; West Fargo, North Dakota, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which can absorb livestock from the South St. Paul stockyard.

Swanson said another reason for the closure was competition from video auction of livestock on the Internet.

With Internet so prevalent, customers do not see a strong need to travel to the city, she said.

Troy Watson, office manager at Joplin Region Stockyards, said video auctions were popular because buyers could purchase cattle for delivery at a later date.

Reporting by Alyce Hinton, editing by Matthew Lewis

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