- Associated Press - Monday, October 12, 2015

GADSDEN, Ala. (AP) - As a kid, Brandon Neely loved listening to the auctioneer when he and his family went to the stockyard to buy or sell cattle.

The 29-year-old Southside man grew up on a cattle farm in West Virginia, and going to the stockyard was a treat.

“To us, it was like going to Disney World is for a lot of kids,” he said.

Neely’s family made the 45-minute trip to the stockyard two or three times a year.

“It was exciting, and we couldn’t wait to get there,” he said. “Then when we’d go home, we’d play stockyard and I was always the auctioneer.”

Neely taught himself the skill of auctioneering by selling toys at his family farm. As it turns out, he was a natural at the auction chant. By the time he was 15 years old, he had his first job at a cattle auction.

Now he is the 2015 World Livestock Auctioneer Champion.

Neely is the first auctioneer from Alabama and the third from the Southeast to be named national champion.

The 52nd anniversary of Livestock Marketing Association’s World Livestock Auctioneer Championship was in June in Clifton, Texas.

The auctioneering phase of the contest is conducted during an actual sale, with live bidders in the seats. Contestants were judged on the clarity of their auction chant; vocal quality; their ability to catch bids and conduct the sale; and, finally, if the judge would hire the auctioneer for his or her own livestock market.

A contestant must be employed as a livestock auctioneer and sponsored by a local, fixed-facility auction market that conducts at least one sale per week.

Neely works at the auction in Pikeville, Tennessee, and also works at automobile auctions.

He credits part of his success to several livestock marketing industry members, such as 1982 World Livestock Auctioneer Champion Dan Williams and others who had a profound influence on his career.

It was Neely’s friendship with Jeff Bynum, an auctioneer from Attalla, that led to his move to Southside. He met Bynum on the auctioneering contest circuit, and wanted to move to a more central location for his auctioneering jobs.

“He’s helped me a lot in my career,” Neely said.

Neely has competed in the World Livestock Auctioneer Championship for nine years, and earned several honors along the way. He won the Audrey K. Banks “Rookie of the Year” award in 2007 and had previously been named champion at two WLAC regional qualifying events.

Winning the title means he’ll have a busy year. Part of his duties include serving as an ambassador of the Livestock Marketing Association and the livestock marketing industry, traveling across the United States visiting auction markets and attending industry events.

“It’s part of the job to serve as a role model to young, aspiring auctioneers,” he said.

When not on the auction block at the livestock market he regularly sells at, Neely will spend his year traveling the country, sharing his auctioneering skills with other livestock auction markets, and acting as a spokesperson for the industry.

Therefore, each semifinalist had an opportunity to establish his or her knowledge of the livestock marketing business, and display the ability to express that knowledge with clarity in a judged interview session as part of the championship.

He recently was in Washington on behalf of the Livestock Marketing Association to bring awareness to congressmen and senators about the outdated packers and stockyard laws, which haven’t been updated since the 1920s.

Times have changed drastically for stockyards, and Neely said some of the laws that regulate the industry need to be updated, too.

The Livestock Marketing Association held the first World Livestock Auctioneer Championship in 1963 at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Denver in 1963 to spotlight North America’s top livestock auctioneers and to salute their traditionally important role in the competitive livestock marketing process. That year, 23 auctioneers from the United States and Canada sold the same 20 head of cattle over and over again.

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Information from: The Gadsden Times, https://www.gadsdentimes.com


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