June 23, 2016 9:36 pm

End of an era for north Okanagan auction

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SPALLUMCHEEN – After more than five decades of selling livestock in the north Okanagan, Valley Auction held its last cattle sale at the Spallumcheen auction house on Thursday.

Valley Auction made the choice to end cattle sales because their business has been dwindling along with the number of cattle in the Okanagan.

Thursday’s final sale was a family affair. Just days after graduating from an auctioneering course, Brody Raffan, 27, was behind the microphone as a seller at the auction for the first time.

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His family has owned Valley Auction in Spallumcheen since 1963.

Brody is launching his auction career just as his family closes the doors on a big part of their business at their north Okanagan auction house.

“It was a tough decision to make,” auction co-owner Peter Raffan told the crowd at Valley Auction before announcing Thursday’s cattle sale would be their last.

Co-owner Don Raffan says they made the decision for business reasons. He ties the end of the cattle auction to mad cow disease.

Read More: Timeline: Canada’s 2003 mad cow disease crisis

“It pretty well wiped out a lot of the small producers that were our backbone of our business. They quit. We lost probably three-quarters of the business that we used to have before that,” said Don Raffan.

“We don’t have enough farmers left anymore. They disappeared. A lot of them just gave up and quit. If you drive up and down the valley there is not the population of cattle that [was] here at one time.”

The end of cattle sales at Valley Auction the end of an era for the Raffan and also their long time customers.

“It is a sad day for the community because this is a community industry and a community business,” said Mark Canart who has been buying cattle at the auction for three decades. “It is a sign of the times and the changing industry.”

Read More: Court-ordered horse auction takes place

The buyers will head to other auctions in places like Vanderhoof, Williams Lake and Kamloops.

“It is a lot nicer to drive five minutes to a sale than it is to drive five hours so it will certainly change that dynamic and all the cattle are going to have to be hauled further,” said local feedlot operator Mike Nikolaisen.

Valley Auction is expected to continue to hold other types of sales at their north Okanagan location.

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