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Local team finishes high at National Beef competition

Fri, May 6th, 2011
Posted in Agriculture

The beef industry looks large in Minnesota, accounting for more than $2 billion in revenue. Still, the industry faces challenges with less than one percent of the U.S. population claiming farming as an occupation. While the number of farmers has declined, the demand for agricultural products has only increased and those farmers have had to meet the demands of a changing market.

All is not lost for agriculture, as many of us in smaller communities knows. Today's youth are showing a revitalized interest in agriculture through programs such as FFA, 4H, and the Land Stewardship's Farm Beginnings program. In addition, 90 percent of the farms in this country are individual or family-owned and the younger generation seems eager to learn what their predecessors know.

Five young men hailing from the Rushford-Peterson and Chatfield school districts represented the area this past October at the 2010 Minnesota Beef Expo last October. Rushford-Peterson's Jordan Bergan, Ben Markegard, Ross Anderson, and Tyler Johnson, and Chatfield graduate Justin Blumer competed in both a quiz and judging bowl, placing high enough to advance to the national competition. That event was held this past February at the Cattle Industry Annual Convention in Denver.

The team practiced diligently in preparation for the contest and knew their knowledge of both cattle and the industry. According to parent Kari Johnson, the judging portion consists of the team examining four animals of a particular classification. This can include market steers, breeding heifers, and just about anything, at any age, in between. Competition is tough and the team must carefully observe and compare the strengths and weaknesses of the animals and then conclude with a ranking of each animal based on its merits.

Likewise, in the quiz bowl, the team must gather as much information as they can, from as many sources as possible, to build up a vast about of knowledge amount both the animals themselves and the industry surrounding them. Breeds, classes, feeding/nutrition, diseases, management, products, and more encompass the dizzying array of categories they may be drilled on.

The trip to Denver was the first national trip for any of the participants and the team did exceptionally well, placing third in quizzing and fourth overall in judging.

The group currently has one junior and one senior team, but there is no limit to the number of teams that can be formed. "We'll make as many teams as students who want to participate," enthused Johnson. Students interested in learning more, or participating, can contact Kari Johnson at 507-875-2321 prior to fall registration (typically early October). The 2011 Minnesota Beef Expo quiz and judging bowls will be held October 20 -23.

The team is grateful to the Minnesota State Cattlemen's Association and the Fillmore County Cattlemen for supporting their trip financially and to R-P, agriculture teacher, Colby Lind for gathering materials for them.

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