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Rollover auctions net thousands for West River ranchers

Greg Rus, a ring man from Rock Valley, Iowa, takes bids Thursday at Mitchell Livestock during a rollover auction to raise money for West River ranchers affected by an October blizzard. (Sean Ryan/Republic)

Area farmers and ranchers dug deep at a rollover auction Thursday in Mitchell and raised nearly $25,000 to benefit West River cattle producers devastated by an October blizzard.

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As auction spotters scanned the 100-person audience for every wave, nod or lifted pop can, Mitchell Livestock auctioneer Lanning Edwards sold and resold a bewildered heifer that trotted the sale barn floor for nearly a half-hour. That’s a rollover auction — sales and resales of an animal until the bidding runs out.

Office manager Lisa Christopher said the event raised $24,898.73, which will be added to about $10,000 in previously collected donations, for a grand total of about $35,000. Mitchell Livestock Auction owner Don Stange said his company will supplement donations by giving $1 per head from Thursday’s consignment sales of about 3,000 cattle.

“Everybody’s hurting out there,” said Tim Amdahl, of Fulton, after the auction. “This will help to encourage them and let them know that people throughout the state and country care about what they went through.”

Amdahl, who donated several times during the auction, said he has family and friends out west who lost stock in the heavy snow and wind. Nearly 14,000 cattle have been verified as fatal casualties of the storm so far.

The heifer, which was donated by the First Interstate Bank of Sturgis, was eventually sold to Dave Barz, owner of Northwest Veterinary Supply, of Parkston, for $1,050.

Barz bought and sold the calf about five times before making the final purchase.

“It’s important to help these folks out,” he said. “They took devastating personal and financial losses.”

Dwight Johnson, of First Interstate Bank in Sturgis, said his bank has sponsored 11 auctions so far working with sale barns in a five-state region.

“About 28 barns have signed on to the program and we’re about halfway through,” he said. His bank has set aside about $35,000 to purchase stock for the benefit sales.

The sale barns will send final checks to the First Interstate Bank which, in turn, will direct the cash to the Ranchers Relief Fund. That fund has a committee that will review applications for relief and distribute the donated cash, Johnson explained.

The day’s highest rollover purchase was made by First Dakota National Bank, of Mitchell, which donated $5,000. Loan officers Will Haugen and Nathan Sparks represented their bank.

“These cow-calf producers out west are a huge part of our state’s economy,” Haugen said. “They’re important for the viability of agriculture in the state.”

Similar auctions have taken place at other area sale barns.

Kimball Livestock Exchange owner Wayne Tupper said an Oct. 29 rollover auction there raised $11,600 for rancher relief.

“We did it in about five minutes,” he said. “It was super.”

The area’s top dollars, so far, were raised Oct. 30 at the Platte Livestock Market, where owner Marshall Ringling said a rollover auction raised $80,000.

Another $10,000 was collected in the following week, for a rancher relief total of $90,000, he said.

Dave Barz said he plans to fatten up the calf he bought Thursday in Mitchell and sell it to benefit South Dakota State University’s new cow-calf unit.

“She’ll come full circle and help everybody,” he said.