Livestock fair wins auction despite purchase bans

Betsy Hoen with her Grand Champion Dairy Steer at the Bartholomew 4-H Fair County Cattle Auction, Saturday July 3, 2021 Carla Clark | For the Republic

Most people wouldn’t think of bidding on an auction knowing that they are likely to get nothing for their money.

But that’s what more than 100 bidders were told on Saturday morning just before the start of the Bartholomew County 4-H cattle sale.

“Your offer is to support the children of 4-H,” said auctioneer Mike Mensendiek. “The animal will always belong to the child.

Many county fairs have banned animals that have consumed ractopamine, the active ingredient in food additives like Paylean or Optaflexx, according to a Jan. 2, 2021 article posted on the Meat + Poultry website.

Although the additive has been used in commercial and show pig feed for decades in the United States, packers and export markets are calling for ractopamine-free pork to comply with a ban from China and the United States. other countries, according to the online article. The ban has grown in importance as African swine fever is expected to increase demand for American pork products.

With huge export potential for U.S. pork, the commercial pork industry has quickly abandoned the use of ractopamine, and packers don’t want to jeopardize international marketing opportunities because of 4-H pigs, according to the website article.

“Our stockyards were reluctant to take 4-H pigs and we saw a definite change in people who wanted their 4-H animal to go to a butcher for meat,” said Becky Speaker, sales committee member. cattle auction.

But on Saturday, buyers were also told they would be allowed to try and work with the 4-H exhibitor to purchase the animal for personal use treatment, Speaker said.

After the announcement, a number of bidders said they were okay with bidding only to support the 4-H program.

Tony Bozell, CEO of Tallman Equipment Company Inc. of Columbus, says he admires the program for teaching its young members how to be successful in the real world.

“What kids learn is to get up, go to work, understand their costs and the need to make a profit,” Bozell said. “Whether it’s hot or cold, these children work and learn regularly. It’s much more important in building character and creating good Americans than anything that goes on. “

As a child, bidder Janet Anthony was a member of 4-H in Orange County and was both a 4-H leader and an adult show judge.

“I love the 4-H mission,” said Anthony, longtime member of the Bartholomew County REMC board of directors. “It’s very difficult to pay for all of these projects, but club members learn so much about budgeting and budgeting, as well as getting the materials and animals needed to be an exhibitor. “

By the end of the cattle sale, a total of $ 193,025 had been raised. While this is down from $ 255,686 two years ago, this year’s total was significantly up from the $ 108,000 made in last year’s online virtual auction which took place. followed a canceled fair.

Overall, this year’s show “has felt a bit bad this year,” said 15-year-old exhibitor Cameron Naylor.

As CSA New Tech’s second student waited to take his 247-pound pig into the ring to be auctioned off, Naylor said he had a great time during the nine-day event.

“But there weren’t that many pigs here,” Lee Naylor and Angie Meek’s son said. “We only had about half as many animals as usual.”

While also expressing his disappointment that the rain canceled out two of his favorite grandstand events, Naylor was also counting his blessings.

“I’m just glad the fair took place,” the teenager said. “There weren’t as many classes (in the cattle shows), but we still did well.

Bartholomew County Extension Manager Elisabeth Eaton also expressed her satisfaction with this year’s 4-H exhibitions.

“I think we’ve bounced back,” Eaton said. “We had a great fair, as well as a great opportunity for members to showcase their work. “

Another pig exhibitor, Ben Kriete, said that while the presentation was fun, the new high school student added that he mostly enjoys socializing at the barn. Monica Kriete’s son said the fair always gave him the opportunity to hang out with his cousins ​​and talk with other teenagers he hadn’t seen for a long time.

But perhaps the end of the fair is the hardest part for 10-year-old members who know their 4-H days are over.

Makena Jackson, the 18-year-old daughter of Robert and Cathy Jackson, exhibited no less than 17 animals in her final year as a member of 4-H. Now the recent Columbus East High School graduate is focused on preparing for his move to Nashville, Tennessee, to attend Trevecca Nazarene University.

“I’m ready for the next chapter of my life, but this one (in 4-H) is hard to close,” Jackson said. “It’s been such a big part of my life and has given rise to so many different friendships.”

But Jackson said one of the things she enjoyed the most during her senior year was watching the younger exhibitors walk out of the pavilion after showing off their animals.

“You see that big smile when they come out with a ribbon,” Jackson said. “That’s really what it all means to me. Even though it’s not my own victory, it’s fun to see someone else smile and be happy.

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