Noam A. Osband | USA 2012 | 6 Min. | OV
I’m a Yankee, a Boston-bred Jew. But, somewhere along the way, Arkansas became my second home. I’ve spent years living in Arkansas, and this little Arkansas county now feels very familiar to me. I have passed this livestock auction house many times – it’s just off of the county’s one traffic light – and I had always wanted to film it. One day, I finally brought my camera, aiming to provide a view into this little-known world through the eyes of an outsider. Searcy County is a sparsely populated area between Little Rock, Arkansas, and Branson, Missouri, ninety-six percent white, the county is demographically similar to northern Arkansas and southern Missouri counties, home to a declining population predominantly employed in farming. The county had over one thousand farms in 1963; five decades later it has fewer than six hundred. Initially, the auction sold both cattle and hogs, but as the pork industry integrated vertically, fewer local farmers bred pigs, and eventually the auction house sold only cattle. As business dwindled – and only months after I documented it in 2009 – Simpkins decided to close.