Faith Livestock says good-bye to Brown |

Faith Livestock says good-bye to Brown

JoAnn Brown, now semi-retired from Faith Livestock, will spend most of her days taking care of her new grandson Everett. Staff photo

Cattle buyers and cattle sellers, coffee drinkers and auction market staff…anyone who has stepped into the lobby of Faith Livestock Commission Company in the last 37 years has likely been greeted by the 100 watt smile of one of the barn’s greatest assets – JoAnn Brown.

Brown is retiring from the position of head bookkeeper for the auction market but will continue to work for Gary and Scott Vance, with plans to spend each Friday at the barn.

On Aug. 19, during Faith Livestock’s annual Anniversary sale, the auction market staff and local community recognized and thanked Brown for her dedication to the cattle industry. It was a good day for the industry, with yearling feeder cattle selling well. Go to Faith Livestock’s market report to see individual sales.

Brown managed the books for the sale of over 2.8 million head of cattle, 2.4 million head of sheep, and over $1.7 billion in revenue during her emplyement with the barn. Allen Voller, Boyd, Ellingson and Paul Schultes made the closest guesses on those figures during a light-hearted competition held at the auction market.

As a young lady who grew up near Faith, JoAnn (Mastel) was working in Illinois in 1977 when her mother called to let her know that Gary Vance’s father Lawrence Vance was hoping she would consider moving back to Faith to help with the bookkeeping at the auction barn.

“I wanted to move back to Faith so I was excited about the opportunity,” Brown said.

Taking care of the books for three generations of the Vance family has been a pleasure, she said. She started just after the fourth of July the summer of 1977 and worked with Lawrence until he passed on a couple years later. Then she worked for Gary, and in more recent years the business has been managed by both Gary and his son Scott.

“I just have loved working with everybody,” Brown commented. “I was just thinking about all the different people who have worked there, who have come and gone through the years, it has been so fun to get to know them. I’ve just met so many people and made so many friendships with the buyers, the sellers, and everyone else. It’s a lot of people you see each week, and you get kind of melancholy thinking of it all.”

Brown recalls many transitions through the years including the addition of a new scale in 1982 that could weigh pot loads of cattle. “before that they had a smaller scale,” she remembers. “That summer the office was kind of torn up so I worked downtown in the back corner of the post office in a small room with no windows,” she remembers.

It was in the summer of 2006, Brown said, that the new computers were put in the office to help transfer information from the auction block to the office. “Then two or three years later we got everything in the ring computerized…so now the girls on the block enter the information from the sale and the girls in the office can get it immediately.”

Brown said the number of bookkeeping staff has remained fairly constant throughout her tenure at Faith Livestock.

She also remembers instances where the electricity went out, causing stress to the salebarn owners. But she said she doesn’t ever remember a time that problems such as those kept the sale from happening. “We are all rural people, so nobody really gets upset about that kind of thing, they just figure out a way to make things work.” JoAnn recalls someone lending their generator to the auction barn once during a power outage. Now, she said, there is backup power for that kind of situation.

With so much extra time on her hands, Brown will be spending Monday through Thursday caring for her infant grandson Everett, son of Jeffrey and Mandi Brown. JoAnn and her husband Jody ranch near Faith. They have two more children, Luke, who is in the seminary in Rome and Hanna, a nurse in Eagle Butte, S.D.

During the Anniversary Sale, local ranchers, cattle buyers and others at Faith Livestock donated over $8,000 to a COOL fund started by the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA).

“The USCA, along with the National Farmers Union, American Sheep Industry Association and the Consumers Federation of America, filed a motion to intervene in opposition to the lawsuit filed on July 8 by nine plaintiffs seeking an end to the U.S. country of origin labeling (COOL) program,” stated USCA’s Executive Vice President Jess Peterson.

“We have hit the road this summer to raise funds in support of this legal effort and Faith, South Dakota was the first stop on the tour, and they did not disappoint. Faith Livestock Market hosted a rollover auction fundraiser during their 53rd Anniversary Sale and Appreciation Day Barbeque. Mike Maher donated the yearling to kick the fundraiser off and all funds raised during the rollover sale were directed towards the U.S. COOL Defense Fund and the legal effort in support of the program. The crowd was fired up, especially given the fact that just an hour before the sale started, the D.C. District Court judge granted the motion made by USCA and the additional groups to intervene in full in the COOL lawsuit. Ranchers and local businesses came up big and when the final checks were tallied more than $8,000 had been raised in support of this effort to keep COOL.”

Peerson added, “I can’t thank the good folks at Faith Livestock, along with each donor, enough for their support for COOL and the legal effort at hand. These dollars are making a difference and we appreciate the continued support and positive feedback from those in the countryside.”


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