Broadband and Business in Rural America: Moo-ving Cattle Auctions Online

The Olson Hereford Ranch has been in Carl Olson’s family for four generations – the longest continuous Hereford breeder in the state of North Dakota. Situated on nearly 3,000 acres just outside the small farming community of Argusville in North Dakota’s Red River Valley, Olson’s ranch runs about 100 head of Herefords, Red Angus, and recipient cows.

Argusville is a tiny town of 500, the kind of community where people don’t lock their doors, an ideal place for raising kids and cattle. But the location and weather can make it challenging to do business. “We’re not very far away from having a bad-weather day,” said Logan Hoffman of DVAuction, the company that’s helped get the Olson’s cattle to market for nearly twenty years.

According to Olson, who’s the current owner and operator of Olson Hereford Ranch, North Dakota’s snowstorms used to stop sales cold. Snow drifts three and four feet high meant people couldn’t drive until the roads were cleared, and local customers stayed home. For years, obtaining internet service in an area this rural and inaccessible was both expensive and difficult. And trying to conduct business online was all but impossible with pages that didn’t load, transactions that timed out, and service that was unavailable for hours or even days.

Cattle Sales, No Longer Snowbound

Thanks to Midco Fixed Wireless Internet, Olson’s sales are no longer snowbound.

“We’ve had fixed wireless internet for well over 10 years,” says Olson. “And every year it seems to be getting better and even more speedy. Right now, having our bull sale, we’re actually going three, four, or five times faster than what the auction company requires.” The reliable connectivity and speed provided by Midco guarantees that Olson Hereford Ranch can broadcast their bull sale online every winter, a change that has opened new markets for the ranch, allowing both snowed-in locals and remote customers to take part in the auction.

The stronger, faster service provided by fixed wireless internet is speeding up Olson’s sales process and increasing efficiency. The family used to trailer and haul dozens of cattle to big auctions hundreds of miles from home, pulling time away from other tasks and unsettling the herd in the process. Back then, the bulls were led around the sales ring by hand, taking at least two minutes per animal for walking and bidding. Now, Olson can video his animals back on the ranch, and bidders and remote customers can view them on a screen, cutting the time per animal by 50% to 80%.

The huge time savings allows Olson to focus on the daily business surrounding the sale, including making transactions smoother and easier for customers. And staying back at the ranch permits him to be hands-on with the herd, which makes for happier, healthier cattle. The result has been a win for owner and customer, alike.

A Game-Changing Tool

Fixed wireless has made it possible for Olson to reach more buyers – both down the road and across the country. Today, he considers it an essential and game-changing tool for today’s farmers, comparable to GPS.

“We’ve sold cattle to California, Montana, Oregon, even down to Georgia… and out to Ohio, and New York,” said Olson. “It allows our program to reach pretty much anywhere, and that’s the real value-added part of it for us…We couldn’t do what we do without Midco Fixed Wireless Internet.”

 

Farms and ranches depend on reliable internet to get their goods to market, but that’s not the only reason why rural Americans need Wi-Fi. To learn six reasons why rural broadband is an urgent priority, read our related article here