The Planted Row: Chamber Ag Committee provides opportunities

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Farm Forum

When I became the editor of the Farm Forum, I joined the Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce Ag Committee to become familiar with the local agriculture community. That decision has been very rewarding. The committee meets on the second Friday of each month for lunch. A presentation highlights aspects of the industry. I’ve heard reports from Washington by a U.S. Senator, updates on the climate from a climatologist and a meteorologist, highlights from a recent South Dakota Agriculture and Rural Leadership trip to South America, reports on soybean field research, and more.

This month, the Ag Committee heard from cattle producer Craig Bieber about a trip to Russia which he took with the USDA to offer advice to that country’s livestock producers.

The Ag Committee isn’t all lunch meetings and presentations, however. The committee organizes four events each year: the Ag Fair, Northern Plains Livestock Day, the Consumer-Producer Breakfast at the Brown County Fair, and the Ag Appreciation Banquet.

Last Saturday was Northern Plains Livestock Day, and the committee needed volunteers. That’s how I found myself at my first livestock show since I was 12 years old. When I was a kid, I was more interested in crops than livestock, but after spending the day watching families working together to prepare animals for the ring, I now realize that I was missing out. I saw smiles everywhere, and the kids really seemed to enjoy themselves. Ag Committee chair Eric Payne of Insurance Plus, Chamber staff liaison Emily Richardt, SDSU Extension 4-H youth program advisor Becca Tullar, and many other volunteers worked very hard and put a lot of planning into the show to make sure everything ran smoothly and the kids had a great opportunity to show their animals.

The event is sanctioned by the South Dakota Junior Points program for both lamb and beef, and there is a portion of the show devoted to goats, as well. As a result, the livestock show is well-attended. This year there were 124 total entries: 31 goats, 52 lambs, and 41 beef. One family came from as far away as Tabor, S.D., to participate in the show.

The grand champion steer and heifer were each awarded $300, and the grand champion lamb and goat each received $200. However, every participant received some level of cash payout.

I was very impressed by the quality of the judging. The show was judged by Joshua Cribbs, the livestock judging coach at South Dakota State University. He had very specific comments about each animal and pointed out areas for improvement. This year the Ag Committee added showmanship classes, and Mr. Cribbs showed himself to be a good judge of people, as well. When awarding a top showmanship prize to one young participant, Cribbs said, “I can see she competes against her sisters, and I just tried to get her to say she was better than her sisters, but she wouldn’t do it.”

By organizing the Northern Plains Livestock Day, the Ag Committee offers young people the chance to demonstrate that they have the skills necessary to become the next successful generation of farmers and ranchers. In the show, they demonstrate the ability to raise, care for, handle, and display (i.e. market) their animals, and they get to have fun with their families while doing so.

If you live in the Aberdeen area and would like to learn more about agriculture and provide opportunities for people, young and old, to learn more about where their food comes from, I encourage you to contact Emily Richardt at (605) 225-2860 or emily@aberdeen-chamber.com. We could always use another volunteer!