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Commentary: Here’s unique insight into the role of a livestock auctioneer.

Tom J Bechman 1, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

September 15, 2022

3 Min Read
pickup truck promoting the 2022 World Livestock Auctioneer Champion
LOOK FOR THIS PICKUP: The 2022 World Livestock Auctioneer Champion drives this vehicle. It was parked outside the facility in Shipshewana, Ind., where interviews for the competition were held. Photos by Tom J. Bechman

Listening to a good auctioneer can get your blood flowing faster. Whenever our local high school is fortunate enough to qualify a soil judging team for the national contest in Oklahoma, we include an afternoon spent listening to the auctioneer sell cattle at the Oklahoma West Stockyards. This past May, they sold 5,000 head of cattle on the day we visited.

So, it’s no wonder I was excited when I was invited to judge at the World Livestock Auctioneer Championship, held earlier this year at Shipshewana Auction and Trading Place in Shipshewana, Ind. This was the 58th annual competition sponsored by the Livestock Marketing Association, based in Overland Park, Kan.

No, I wasn’t there to judge their ability to sell livestock. Each one of the 30 contestants took a turn behind the auction block during a special sale where 1,100 head of cattle were sold to a standing-room only crowd of buyers. Other professionals judged each person’s ability at auctioneering.

I was one of several communications and industry people who judged how well each auctioneer could relate to people in an interview. Why? Because the world champion tours the country, selling as a guest at LMA member auction barns, but also participating in interviews and telling their story one on one with consumers everywhere. They must communicate effectively.

In fact, the eventual 2022 winner, Will Epperly of Dunlap, Iowa, realized this was so vital that he worked with a college professor to train for the interview. In the competition, the interview counted as 25% of the score. Epperly performed well. High score in the interview portion went to Jake Parnell, Sacramento, Calif., who was also a top 10 overall finalist.

Each contestant answered three questions, including one about themselves. The other two questions were:

1. Why are livestock auction markets valuable today? Answers varied from providing a place where true price discovery could happen to providing an outlet for locally raised livestock. But nearly all emphasized one point: Livestock sales pavilions bring business into the community and support the local economy.

2. What message would you tell the public if selected as champion? Almost every person believed it would be critical to explain the role livestock markets play in ensuring consumers have safe, high-quality meat for their table.

Keith Lambright


Going strong 100 years later

If you have livestock to sell, there is one constant. Every week of the year, you can sell it at the livestock auction held live at Shipshewana. Keith Lambright and family make sure that happens.

“This is our 100th year as a family in the business, and we were honored to be selected to host the World Livestock Auctioneer Championship finals this year,” Lambright says. Shipshewana Auction and Trading Place hosted a qualifying event leading up to the 2017 championship, but this was its first time hosting the finals.

Lambright’s ancestors started the auction market, and his father moved it to its current location. The community helped them get going again after a major fire in the early 1980s. Shipshewana Auction and Trading Place is a member of LMA.

About the Author(s)

Tom J Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

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