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With Fair cancelled, youth have to find market animal buyers

With Fair cancelled, youth have to find market animal buyers With Fair cancelled, youth have to find market animal buyers

Even though the Clark County Fair has been cancelled this year, for some members of area 4-H clubs and FFA chapters, the Fair isn’t over yet. Having spent the last several months raising animals to show and sell at the Livestock Show and Sale during the Fair, these kids now have the responsibility of selling and preparing their animal for processing on their own.

Since this spring, both 4-H groups and FFA chapters have refrained from in-person meetings and activities, choosing instead to use alternative means of communication to stay in contact. While meeting in this way, some members of both organizations were also making their own decisions about participating in the Clark County Fair in August, even as the Clark County Agricultural Society mulled over whether or not to hold the event.

Looking back on events, Livestock Show and Sale Committee secretary and treasurer Cindy Kolzow said the decision of whether or not to raise a market animal to show at the Fair this year was different for each person, depending on the type of animal they chose to raise. For some, it was a decision made months before the COVID-19 pandemic even started. For others, it was more of a gamble.

“The beef kids, when they purchased their animals and did the weigh-ins in January, they were thinking things were full bore,” she said. “Swine and lambs, they were purchased at-risk. They knew this was happening.”

Once the decision was made, Kolzow said it became the responsibility of the kids to raise and care for the animal. It’s an annual lesson for them, teaching them important skills about how to raise an animal and how to plan for their animal’s sale.

“As soon as they are chosen they are raising them for market,” she said. “Feeding them, watering them, training them for showing for the Fair, getting them ready in time for the Fair.”

For those kids raising animals, it’s been a familiar experience that has been done over and over again for several years. While the beginning part of the process of raising the animal didn’t change due to the pandemic, with the Fair being cancelled, the ending will be a new and unique experience for almost all of them. Typically, Kolzow said once the animal is shown at the Fair, it falls on others at the Livestock Show and Sale to actually sell the animal. That changes this year.

“Normally the kids raise the animals at the farm and they have a live auction at the Fair,” she said. “They need to solicit at least one bidder, talk to local businesses … they have the experience of raising animals and soliciting bidders; many kids have experience, but not all have done sales. It has always been Citizens State Bank. Now kids have to figure out market price and work it out with the buyer. Will they sell for a flat rate and have it cost so much per animal or will they do it per pound? If they sell an animal for meat per pound, they need to set on live weight certified scales so there’s a little more involved for them (this year).”

Knowing the difficulties the kids raising animals would be facing in the event of the Fair’s cancellation, Kolzow said the Livestock Show and Sale Committee took steps right away to make sure each 4-H and FFA member involved in the show would get the guidance they needed to get through this part of the process. Letters and e-mails were sent out a few weeks ago to each kid loaded with resources and instructions on what their options were to sell their animals and how to do it.

“The state has provided some excellent tools to help them with that,” she said. “We sent letters to the youth with possible options for sale of their animals … they can either keep them and keep the meat for themselves, have friends or family buy it or we told the kids about previous buyers and bidders and gave them a list.”

The Livestock Show and Sale Committee didn’t stop with just the kids, though. Knowing it could be hard for the kids to know which previous buyers and bidders to contact to sell their animals, Kolzow said the committee decided to let the public know about the situation the 4-H and FFA kids are in and give them the opportunity to reach out to the kids themselves if they have an interest in buying.

“Well, basically the Livestock Committee has given the kids the tools to sell their animals and we sent letters to last year’s buyers should they be interested in purchasing an animal,” she said. “Some may still want animals, it depends on where businesses are, some haven’t been doing well. We did place an ad in the local papers so communities are aware that 4-H and FFA youth have animals to sell. The public can contact either the youth directly or our Clark County Extension Office. We have a list, but we don’t know if they have alternative arrangements set up, you will have to call them to find out.”

Animals that will be for sale will include beef, hogs, lamb, rabbits and poultry. As the animals were raised to be ready for sale and processing around the time of the Clark County Fair, arrangements will have to be made with local processors by July 10 to make sure the animal is processed in a timely manner.

“As a committee we met with local processors and sent letters to all the businesses that sponsor the sale program to help them be aware of what’s happening,” said Kolzow. “Most animals are to be market ready by the Fair on Aug. 12. They will be ready for the market mid-August. All of our local processors keep slots open to Fair animals. They are very limited on slots available, but they have been very good on keeping slots open for kids. They need to let them know by July 10.”

To get contact information for local youth selling animals, call the Clark County Extension Office at (715)743-5122.

4-H and FFA youth who usually sell their market steers, hogs, lambs, rabbits and poultry during the Clark County Fair livestock sale must find their own buyers this year due to cancellation of the 2020 event due to coronavirus. The Clark County UW-Extension office has a list of youth who have raised animals for sale and need buyers in the next few weeks. At the 2019 livestock sale, 158 animals were sold, raising more than $183,000 for the youth who brought them to market.