BY MATT PIKE
St. Joseph Post
Longtime St. Joseph Stockyards employee Greg Clement has many fond memories of his time with the Stockyards.
Clement recalls many memories at the St. Joseph Stockyards, but one of his fondest is how his future as an auctioneer began.
"My favorite memory was selling feeder pigs to start with and learning how to become an auctioneer." Clement says "I sold feeder pigs for the first three years with the St. Joe Stockyards, the first four actually, didn't draw a dime to do it but I learned to become an auctioneer"
But the best memory Clement adds is the day he began working full time.
"Really the best time I had was in 1987 when Jim Reynolds let me become a full time auctioneer working at the St. Joe Stockyards selling slaughter cattle." Clements says
Clement worked at the St Joseph Stockyards for 36 years and says that over the years as agriculture changed from livestock to producing more row crops, he saw his customer base shrink. For instance, Clement says on his drive from his home in Skidmore to Tarkio, he had at least fifteen cattle customers between those two towns, but with the popularity of row crops and the shrinking cattle herds, supply has dimnished.
"That has shrunk to literally nothing, because about all those guys that had twenty to thirty to forty, fifty head of cows have gone strictly to row crop," Clement says " the shrinking cattle herds across Northwest Missouri, Southwest Iowa, Southeast Nebraska and Northeast Kansas, I mean it's definitely made a difference."
Clement can't help but make comparisons to the Kansas City Stockyards which closed in 1991 and the closing of the stockyards in Omaha. Clement points out the stockyards used to employ hundreds. but times changed, the cattle supply shrunk, and the city grew around them.
"Where Kansas City and St. Joe were originally, they said, built by the stockyards, I think more or less the cities outgrew the stockyards, literally outgrew the stockyards, and instead of a great asset they became a liability." Clement says.
The St. Joseph Stockyards have been sold. It held it's last auction on May 19th.