For the staff at the Stettler Auction Mart, heightened precautions are in place during the pandemic but in many ways it is business as usual.
“It’s affected us a little bit – obviously the drop in market has affected us more than anything,” said Crystal Rairdan, owner/operator.
“The price of feeder cattle right now is not the greatest with the market – which is a result of the world market being affected by all of this.
“As of COVID-19 procedures, we have stepped up our sanitizing and cleaning. Right now, we are only allowing buyers so we can keep it under that 15-person maximum that the government has implemented,” she explained.
“For our farm sales, we’ve had to cancel or postpone a bunch of those for this summer because we have no idea how long this is going to last,” she said. “We had some farm and consignment sales booked for April and May, so all of those have either been cancelled and rescheduled for next year or postponed until the summer – if we have to postpone them again then we will play that by ear,” she said.
Meanwhile, the 4-H clubs normally have sales in the middle of May. “For them this year, we are doing online sales. We will have videos of the kids with their calves up on our web site, and we are hoping to have those up by the beginning of May,” she said. “People can look at the calves, and we will sell them online.
“We are actually going to still try and have a confirmation show for them without the children, so we are going to receive their animals for them at the mart here and then we will have someone come in to judge them standing in the pen so that they can still get their awards for the projects that they have done this year,” she said.
“I know there are a bunch of 4-H clubs that have either cancelled everything altogether, and there is one other district that I’ve heard of in Alberta that is going to do an online sale, but the show portion is still actually cancelled,” she added.
“We are trying to help the 4-H clubs as best we can through this and get them a bit of recognition for all of the time and effort that they have put into it,” she said, referring to local clubs including the Big Valley, Big Knife, Erskine and Byemoor clubs.
“We’ve had those online capabilities for awhile — all of our sales are online every week.”
Ultimately, other than limiting the amount of people coming into the facility and heightening the cleaning measures, Rairdan said the ongoing pandemic hasn’t overly affected operations significantly. “It’s still kind of business as usual.
“With our feed store, we have implemented curbside service for customers who don’t want to come into the store,” she said. “They just give us a shout and we take the product out to them.
“With us being an essential service as part of the food chain, we’ll be open through this whole pandemic,” she said. “So it’s a learning curve.”