Children and teens raising market animals will not be limited to showing one market animal at the San Joaquin Fair after all — at least, not in 2010.
After hearing from six concerned people involved in livestock, the nine-member San Joaquin Fair board agreed on Wednesday to postpone a decision until a thorough discussion of livestock issues is aired.
The board was scheduled to consider reducing the number of livestock exhibitors can show from two to one at Wednesday's meeting in Stockton.
Residents affiliated with 4-H and the Future Farmers of America told the fair board that it would be a financial hardship for exhibitors from 23 4-H clubs and 11 FFA chapters in San Joaquin County, who have already purchased their animals for the 2010 fair. They also expressed concern that they didn't know that limiting the number of animals was being considered until Monday.
The fair board agreed with board President Victoria Salazar to postpone any decision regarding livestock and form a committee consisting of one board member and several members of the agricultural committee.
"If it happens, 2010 is not the year it is going to happen," said Salazar, who lives in Woodbridge.
Saying she appreciates the six county residents' passion about the livestock exhibit, Salazar apologized to them for not informing the agricultural community about the proposal sooner.
"Thank God you were here," board member Art Perry told the audience.
Without the residents' input, the board may have followed fair CEO Debbie Cook's recommendation to limit exhibitors to one market animal at the 2010 fair, Perry said.
Cook also recommended that breeding stock and market animals be in the livestock area at the same time, and that animals be held until the Sunday after the sale, both of which proved to be controversial.
Breeding and market animals should be separated, as they usually are, because having them together presents a health issue, according to a letter to the board from David Luis, a swine leader for Ripon 4-H and co-chairman of the San Joaquin County 4-H swine barn. Luis said he was unable to attend Wednesday morning's meeting.
A third issue stems from the tentative fair dates of June 16-20. Livestock buyers said they will not show up at the fair on June 20 because it happens to fall on Father's Day, according to Diane Miller, chairwoman of large livestock at the fair.
The committee that will be formed will discuss all these issues, Salazar said.
Tom Wulff, whose daughter, Kasey, raises cattle and swine, represented Lodi FFA at Wednesday's meeting. He found out about the proposed livestock changes during Tuesday night's ag boosters meeting at Lodi High School.
"We didn't have a lot of details," Wulff said during a break in Wednesday's fair board meeting.
He said he came to find out about the fair dates and to address the proposed restrictions on market animals.
Students pay between $1,000 to $2,500 for market steers, said Wulff, adding that Lodi FFA has 50 to 60 students who show market animals.
A side issue, Cook said, is that the state hasn't informed San Joaquin Fair officials on what days it can hold its fair. That's because the dates are generated by horse racing at fairs throughout Northern California.
The State Fair's move to July will cause some animals to be purchased out of state, said Sherry Johns, the Delta-California Livestock Junior Exhibit Entries representative. Some animals could get sick because health standards vary from state to state, Johns said.
"We want to do what's right," board member Nanette Martin said. "We have our hands tied because they haven't give us our dates."
Fair officials normally know the dates by this time, but they're in flux this year because the California State Fair has been moved from August to July. That move affects all the county fairs, because they have to find out what horse racing dates are available.
Options presented to San Joaquin Fair board— Limit exhibitors to one market animal per person (only 20 percent showed two animals in 2009). Also keep animals on the grounds through Sunday for better presentation to the public. Includes other activities like master showmanship, knowledge bowl, hay bucking contest and judging contest.
— Eliminate all large-animal breeding class such as cows, Boer goats, dairy goats, sheep and dairy cattle except for replacement heifers.
— Eliminate breeding sheep and Boer goats, have Saturday auction, keep milk parlor open.
Fair CEO Debbie Cook said in a Tuesday interview that even if exhibitors have already bought two market or breeding animals, the second one can be used as a backup in case the first one gets sick or turns out to be less marketable.
Source: San Joaquin Fair