DICKINSON, N.D. — Larry Schnell and his family have seen many things, both good and bad, in decades in the livestock marketing industry. Now, Schnell has been installed as president of the national Livestock Marketing Association during a challenging time, in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We're not able to get beef to people like we used to," reflecting pandemic-related declines in sales at restaurants and other foodservice locations, said Schnell, co-owner of Stockmen's Livestock Exchange, which has two location in Dickinson, N.D., in the southwestern part of the state.
Schnell will serve a two-year term at the association, the nation's largest livestock marketing trade group. Based in Overland Park, Kan., it represents more than 800 local livestock auction markets and associated businesses.
Many in the cattle industry question the fairness of the finished cattle pricing system and are looking for ways to make it more equitable, Schnell said.
As a result, the Livestock Marketing Association supports the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the federal Department of Justice's meat packer investigations to discover "if there is anything illegal or unfair. We need to find a competitive pricing mechanism that better serves the cattle producers and cattle feeders our members work so heavily with," he said.
The association tries to avoid partisan politics and focuses instead on issues on which its members have consensus, he said.
Schnell and his family are familiar faces in area agriculture and the national livestock marketing industry.
His grandfather, Ray, founded Schnell's Livestock Auction Market in 1937. In 1977, Larry Schnell became partners in the business with his father and two others, taking over as general manager in 1985. Today, the business is owned by Schnell and partner James Erickson.
Schnell's past industry involvement includes serving as chairman of the North Dakota Beef Council, regional vice president for the Federation of State Beef Councils, president of the North Dakota Auctioneers Association and president of the North Dakota Livestock Marketing Association.
The Livestock Marketing Association describes itself as "North America’s leading, national trade association dedicated to serving its members in the open and competitive auction method of marketing livestock."
Founded in 1947, LMA has more than 800 member businesses across the U.S. and Canada and remains invested in both the livestock and livestock marketing industries through support, representation and communication efforts. More information: www.LMAWeb.com.