December third marks one year since fire destroyed a staple in the region’s farming industry. Now that they’ve rebuilt, the industry itself seems to be in trouble.
It’s a typical Monday at the Union City Livestock Auction, but on this day last year, there was a different sort of hustle and bustle. The auctioneer telling us, “Somebody called my house and said it was on fire… Pretty tough deal.”
John Corwin, Owner of UCLA, says, “It’s kind of heart-breaking because we put a lot of work into it before and we’ve put a lot of work into it since then.”
Several crews fought the blaze for hours. By day’s break, it became clear that if the oldest livestock auction house in Pennsylvania was going to continue on, they’d have a lot of work ahead of them.
Corwin says, “We put it back together because I didn’t want to see it go down and I was just too stubborn to let it sit here and smolder.”
Now that things have returned to normal, the auction house is dealing with another issue.
Corwin says although the auction house has been a long-time staple in the farming community for decades he’s seeing a spike in bitter-sweet business as more and more people sell off the family farm.
Ryan See, a farmer from Titusville, is here to sell more than 70 dairy cows, nearly half his heard. He tells us he’s selling for “A few different reasons, obviously, low milk prices, no help, and of course, no time with family and that kind of thing.”
He’s hoping market conditions improve in the future, but for now, he’s doing what he must to make ends meet. “It was a hard decision, you know? My dad farmed and his dad farmed his whole life.”
Corwin tells us, “They just can’t make it anymore. It’s not that they failed, the system failed. it’s just very… sad.”
As for the future of the Union City Livestock Auction, Corwin plans to hang in there as long as there are still farmers here to help.