Fair Auction Could Be Utter Disaster For Future Farmers

October 11, 2009 11:36:20 AM PDT
Problems with the Valley's dairy industry showed up at the Fresno fair Saturday. A decline in milk prices means many F.F.A.high school students are uncertain about the money they will have to attend college.This is Lilly, a two-year old heifer who was care for by 17-year old Christian Coelho. "She's a good heifer and she likes socializing," he said.

This F.F.A. student at Washington in Easton was able to fetch $2,500 for her at auction. Not bad but well under what Coelho has earned for heifers in past years.

Coelho: "I spent more myself than past years. I spent a little more out of my pocket than out of donations that I've received."

Coelho said most of the students here put the money they earn into their college savings fund. So a drop in what their cows fetch at auction really hurts.

"Our feed costs have escalated. The costs of the animals are therefore more expensive," said superintendent of the livestock Carolee Boele.

Boele said problems at dairies nationwide are also to blame for less people purchasing at auction.

Some valley dairymen have even had to send their cows to slaughter because milk prices are too low for them to stay in business.

Boele: "A lot of the dairies were advising the kids not to buy heifers because of the conditions in the market right now."

750 students participate in this auction every year. And there is some promise fortunes could turn around. Over 1,500 buyers are expected to attend during this 12 day show.

Boele: "Those are people who are going to buy total animals or simply give an add on which is 20 or 30 or 100 dollars added on to the price of the animal as a show of support." Which should help students like Coelho reach their goals of paying for their higher education.

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