“Buying Local” at the County Fair…Priceless

“Buying Local” is all the rage and has different meaning for different people.  For market steer participants in both 4-H and FFA, it has many levels that should be acknowledged. With the Pasco County Fair in the books for 2018 and the Sumter County Fair quickly approaching, there are many benefits to our local economy from youth livestock projects that should be explored.

First, the steer purchase itself

All of the Pasco County Fair participants must buy their steers from a breeder in Pasco County.  Some students even raise a steer from their own cow herd, starting from the ground up, if you will.  For 2018, over 60 steers were purchased and raised by youth within Pasco County alone.  That translates into 60 “mouths to feed”.  Doing some rough math, this means well over a ton of feed and hay per day was needed to feed all of these animals toward the end of their project.  Feed stores in the area appreciate the business they receive from these projects. 

Next, the sale of the steer

Local businesses and individuals are present at the final auction held during the fair.  The youth spend a great deal of time composing and sending buyer letters, which is yet another benefit of these projects.  The student is rewarded, typically, with a sale price higher than they would receive if they went straight to the livestock market.  Many will put this money in a fund for college or tech school.  It is an exciting way to give away upwards of 60 “scholarships” at one time to a great group of kids!

 Finally, the end product

Buyers at the auction have the option to participate in the “buy back.”  This means a business entity set up to utilize fed cattle will offer to buy the steer from them.  Then, the local business owner or individual just uses the difference as a tax deduction and they have made a donation to the program.  If they decide to keep the steer and have it processed, they have truly bought locally born, raised and butchered beef which is quite delicious.

Here are some final thoughts to ponder

The idea of “buying locally” may be a somewhat romantic idea, but there are occasions where it can happen in places that are unexpected.  Where 4-H and FFA market animals are concerned, that is just the tip of a much greater iceberg.  How about local cattlemen rallying behind a program and taking pride in their steers and seeing their cattle produce a product all the way to the end product?  How about the Fair Committee members spending countless, unpaid hours to see a huge production come together for a few days at the fair?  How about all of the character it can build in our youth that usually is so obvious that it doesn’t have to be mentioned here?

In conclusion, here is a quick summary on an individual steer project:  a steer bought on local ranch… around $1000; feed bought at feed store… around $1,500; buying local at the county fair….Priceless!

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