Champions are valuable
By Trent Loos
In 1899 the first American Royal, then known as the National Hereford Show, started in tents. Since that time, it has blossomed into one of the nation's premier youth livestock events. Lindsi, our 10-year-old, and I have just returned from the American Royal. She exhibited just one pig but meet tons of new friends from around the country. We placed down the line quite a bit but it seemed to light a fire under her to do better, unlike any other show we have participated in. That is what livestock shows are about--teaching kids how to learn from losing and be humbled by winning. Those are life lessons that will serve them well no matter what their future holds.
Now for the winners at the American Royal, the payday has never been better. Joe and Marty Bichelmeyer were in charge of the Sale of Champions for the top 63 animals. It truly was a record-setting sale as the total for those animals was $430,000, $6,825 per head average.
The Grand Champion market beef animal, exhibited by Baylor Bonham from Newcastle, Okla., was purchased by Neal and Jeanne Patterson for $100,000.
The Grand Champion market hog was shown by Blake Goss of Canute, Okla., was purchased by Herb and Bonnie Buchbinder, David and Beth Fowler, Steve and Debra Frye, Rick and Nancy Hoffman-Triumph Foods, KPMG LLP, Brant Laue, Laue Ranch, Ron and Kelly Lockton, Bert and Stacy Macy, Greg and Liz Maday, David and Cynthia Savage for $32,000.
MacKenzie Fruchey of Fayette, Ohio, showed the Grand Champion market lamb and it was purchased by Saddle and Sirloin for $10,000.
The Grand Champion market goat, exhibited by Cooper Bounds Taneytown, Md., was purchased by David and Beth Fowler, Brant Laue, David and Cynthia Savage for $9,000.
It is easy to marvel at what the champions brought and say "thank you" to those individuals for making it happen but I want to remind you that 59 other animals were sold in this sale and no animal brought less than $1,200.
I emphasize that because we are living through the most uncertain economic times in the recent history of our country. Sales and shows like this happen because of several factors. The credit is primarily due to the many volunteers who truly have a passion for kids in agriculture and are willing to drop everything to get it done.
This event, combined with the many conversations that I had with some of our nation's bright young Americans, truly inspires me as to what can be accomplished. I had a conversation with 16-year-old Hayden Kerkaert from Pipestone, Minn. I asked Hayden about the future of agriculture and he sees nothing but opportunity. He plans to pursue a future as either a veterinarian or possibly something in animal nutrition because he was inspired by feeding show hogs.
Hundreds of kids went home with ribbons, like Lindsi did, that didn't make the sale and even more went home without even a ribbon, but that is simply motivation for them to work harder, select their animals more carefully, learn more about feeding show animals and continue to shoot for making that Sale of Champions. Each and every trip to the show ring is a learning experience in and of itself.
It reminds me that the greatest kept secret in the world is how brilliant and promising the next generation of folks in agriculture are if we old timers don't screw them up. We are constantly whining and complaining about this challenge or that. You know as well as I do that our nation's history is laced with individual challenges, yet those forefathers simply put their nose to the grindstone and made it work. These kids aren't always overshadowed with the reality of the roadblocks that might be ahead of them. Instead, they have such an optimistic vision that they believe these are just stepping stones to get to the next level. We need to use that powerful drive as our own incentive to help them succeed and also to feed off of their visionary outlook.
If you find yourself in one of those downer moods and need a little pick me up, I suggest you make your way to a youth livestock show or simply attend a local FFA Chapter or 4-H club function. You will come away with a great degree of confidence that the real champions are not the animals but rather all the kids who work hard every day to get them there. There is no monetary value that can be placed on the champions we are creating in the future of agriculture--it is priceless!
Editor's note: Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at www.FacesOfAg.com, or email Trent at firstname.lastname@example.org.