04 July 2009 - Stand Up for Livestock at the Fairs

We are entering one of my favorite times of the year, county and state fair time. I know some states, Arizona for one, hold their state fair in the winter time, but the heavy schedule occurs from now into early fall. As we move into the season, I would share a couple thoughts on your involvement and hope that you will support your fair during these challenging economic times.

We have, I hope, pretty well recovered from the livestock judging scandals of several years ago at several county and state fairs that drew national attention and criticism. That led to changes in the rules and strict enfocement by the people who conduct livestock shows at fairs, as well as changes in the behavior of exhibitors. So I would simply say to livestock exhibitors, especially 4-H and FFA members, follow the rules and don't let anyone lead you astray. After all, it’s a learning experience to help you do a better job of raising livestock. It's great know to show a Grand Champion and if you are one of the fortunate, but few, to do that this year, make sure you win it "fair and square" without bending or breaking the rules.

The other point I would like to make....with the growing battle between livestock producers and the animal rights activists; be ready to respond to people who might challenge you at county and state fairs. This a well-funded well-organized campaign conducted by people who have one goal and that is to eliminate animal agriculture in the United States. They will take you to task for the way you care for your livestock at the fair, as well as at home, with questions about confinement, gestation crates, poultry cages and veal calf production. They will want to draw you into an emotional argument and you need to respond with facts based on science.

I would suggest this source to help prepare you for any such encounter. Livestock producers in Ohio are preparing for a ballot battle with the Humane Society of the United States on this very issue and they have developed a question-and-answer fact sheet that will help you answer the questions about the subjects I mentioned. Simply contact the Ohio Farm Bureau to get more information on the fact sheet as well as a poster they have prepared to display at livestcok shows.

So arm yourself with the facts, don't let them draw you into an emotional argument and don't back away in your defense of the livestcok industry. You are an important part of U.S. agriculture in its role to feed the world. Oh, and one more thought...have a gtreat tiem at the fair and good luck in the judging ring!

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.