Iotron Technology Inc.


000135 New High-Tech “Bull Market”

January 25, 2000

Bismarck, ND - Craig Kemmet normally hauls his cattle to auctions and gets a price that fluctuates with the amount of bidding activity.

But for his current sale, the Tappen, N.D., rancher doesn't have to leave his computer. An Internet site allows him and others to market cattle throughout the United States and Canada.

“You can eliminate the guesswork of knowing what you're going to get at the sale barn,” Kemmet said.

With, Kemmet lists his livestock information, including number of animals, weight and price. This week, he advertised 60 steers for a price of 85 cents per pound.

Buyers can accept the listed price or make an offer, and when one party accepts, the deal is done., based in Idaho, has field agents who come to farms and take pictures of herds so buyers can go online and see what the cattle look like.

“There's just a world of advantages to marketing cattle that way,” said John Freeman, founder and president. “The most obvious one is the number of buyers that a consigner can expose his cattle to.”

Freeman also said the Internet provides farmers with a fast and efficient means of selling their cattle. Once the cattle information is posted, a deal can be made within minutes. And ranchers don't have to rely on auction prices that could wind up being lower, he said.

“A guy can set his price and he can try and get it,” Freeman said. “You're just not committed to throwing the dice on one particular day, let alone one particular moment.”

Internet livestock marketing has its downfalls, however. Kemmet said the commission cost of 1.5% with is higher than what auctions charge. And some buyers like to actually see the cattle they are buying.

“There's still a desire by everybody to see the cattle, to physically see them,” said Wade Moser, executive vice president of the North Dakota Stockmen's Association. “Five-hundred-pound steers come in all sizes, shapes and colors.”

North Dakota livestock auctions have been slow to join the online craze, but some managers acknowledge that “cyber cattle” could become an option as technology advances and the Internet gains acceptance from producers.

“There are really very few farmers and ranchers that have anything to do with the Internet,” said Larry Schnell, manager of Stockmen's Livestock Exchange in Dickinson. “These are mostly older people.

“The younger generation is a lot more interested in it, and you'll see more of that,” he added. “But the reality is that in North Dakota most of our farmers and ranchers are at least over 50.”

Moser said he thinks Internet cattle sales will evolve, “but it's not going to be an overnight deal.” has an Internet auction of its own, but Freeman said it hasn't been popular because ranchers have opted for the page that allows negotiation between buyers and sellers. He said the popularity makes perfect sense.

“You've got a live animal that is a long ways from his market. It's not uncommon for cattle to take a 1,000-mile truck ride, and very common to take a 300- or 400-mile truck ride,” Freeman said. “What we need to do is communicate information across great distances, and that's what the Internet does.”


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