The Montana Farm Bureau is urging caution to any rancher hoping to sell livestock over the internet, via social media or other sources.
“Sadly, with the drought conditions and lack of hay, many ranchers are needing to cull their stock, and some are choosing to do so via the internet or dealing with people they are unfamiliar with. We’ve been hearing tales of people not getting paid even after the livestock have transferred ownership,” noted MFBF Executive Director John Youngberg.
The best defense is to know your buyer, said Youngberg. “Don’t sell to someone completely unknown. Make sure you are paid beforehand or at the very least, get a down payment. Be sure to set your terms before you make any transaction. If you have animals to sell, contact your local auction yard in advance and have your animals sold to a reputable buyer. It’s wise to tell the auction yard well beforehand how many pairs you will be selling so they can find buyers in advance.”
The Montana Department of Livestock keeps a record of certified, bonded cattle dealers.
“Unfortunately, in hard times like we are seeing now, people get more susceptible to scams. If some deal sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t a good deal,” noted Board of Livestock Executive Officer Mike Honeycutt. “If you’re retaining ownership of cattle going to a feedlot you are unfamiliar with, check sources to ensure you are putting your animals with a reputable business. Call the Montana Department of Livestock who can help you determine if you’re working with a reputable dealer. In addition, our office keeps a list of livestock scams.”
Youngberg reiterated to be cognizant with whom you are doing business. “Unfortunately, when hard times hit, there is always an element out there who feel the time is ripe for bilking someone out of their money or in this case, out of their livestock. Be alert and protect yourself. Times are hard enough without adding unscrupulous people into an already stressful situation.”