Watonga Feeder Bill Roser Claims Feedyards are on the Rise with a Resurgence in Producer InterestWed, 08 Aug 2018 11:54:44 CDT
For 30 years, Excel Feedyards in Watonga, Okla. has served the needs of its customers throughout eastern Oklahoma. With a total capacity of 27,000 head, the feedlot’s manager, Bill Roser, says they can handle just about anything that is thrown their way. He talked with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays this week during a recent visit from the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Chris Giancarlo, who toured his enterprise to gain a better understanding of how the beef industry relies on the futures trade to manage their risk. Roser says running a feedyard is hard work, more so than ever and believes to stay afloat in these uncertain times, challenges must be met head on. You can listen to their complete conversation by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
“A feedyard is just pipe and concrete,” Roser remarked. “So, the only thing that sets you apart is what you can do for the people you have. We’re a service business and we work hard at it.”
Despite the hard work, though, Roser regrets that the market is in control when it comes to who makes a profit - and who doesn’t. Currently, he says his customers are not in fortune’s favor and are feeling the effects of a reeling ag economy and like many times before have hit a low spot in the cycle of the beef market.
“We’re on the wrong side of the ledger sheet again, which we seem to get there fairly frequently,” he said, optimistically adding to that. “But, I think this fall and winter, early spring look pretty favorable. You’re still gambling some though. Feeding cattle is a risky business, but it can be really rewarding a lot of the time also.”
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, according to Roser. Keeping up with the various regulatory requirements, record keeping, etc. is a full-time job in itself. Which is another issue - finding enough qualified labor to get the work done.
“Labor is your biggest opportunity. We get a lot of people that’s worked in the oilfield. The oilfield is obviously very lucrative if you want to work there, but that’s a boom or bust business and for a lot of people - agriculture can be a really rewarding career. So, you go after those people.”
For Roser, though, feeding cattle has been a lifetime career and having seen the business unfold over the years, he can tell you a lot has changed from just 15 to 20 years ago. Mainly the amount of risk involved.
“There’s no normal anymore. You need a phenomenal amount of money to do anything and you’re constantly trying to figure out how to get the job done with people who have less skills,” he said, but interjected that despite the challenges that exist, the feeding business is once again on the rise. “We’re seeing more and more differentiation on commodity cattle in niche programs - and a resurgence of just people who want to feed. I think most feedyards are seeing that. There’s still a lot of corporate ownership, but more individual ownership then there’s been the last several years.”
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