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Dairy show judge wants more young people active in the agriculture industry

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Kateleigh Mills
/
OPMX
Addie Raber, a junior at Oklahoma State University, was a first-time judge at the Payne County Dairy Show on Aug. 25.

Dairy farms across the country have been declining for nearly 20 years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Dairy farms across the country have been declining for nearly 20 years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. One reason why, Raber said, is that young people might get dissuaded by the hard work it takes to maintain a dairy farm.

Oklahoma’s fair season is here, and one staple for many communities is visiting livestock show rings, where many young FFA and 4-H exhibitors compete.

But for Addie Raber, a junior at Oklahoma State University, it was her first time judging livestock instead of showing them. Raber judged the Payne County Dairy Show last month and said she finds it important for young people like herself to be active in the agriculture industry.

“With farms getting bigger but there being less [farmers], we need to keep the youth interested because that's the next producers of our nation,” Raber said.

The Oklahoma State Fair begins September 15th in Oklahoma City, but more information about county fairs can be found by visiting a local extension office.

“You have to milk the cows every morning and night, and sometimes three times a day, depending on the kind of operation that you run,” Raber said. “They have to be fed once or twice a day, and you have to keep the barns cleaned out constantly.”

Showing animals at the fair plays a critical part in informing the general public about the agriculture industry, said Rusty Gosz, a youth livestock specialist with OSU Extension, in a news release.

“Our livestock shows produce less than 2% of what we’re putting into the food chain,” Gosz said. “But probably 85% to 90% of the general public views agriculture through livestock shows.”

For Raber, showing animals is a responsibility she takes seriously and hopes to continue in the future. As a double major in agriculture communications and animal sciences, she hopes to become a livestock photographer someday.

This report was produced by the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, a collaboration of public media organizations. Help support collaborative journalism by donating at the link at the top of this webpage.

Oklahoma Public Media Exchange
Kateleigh Mills joined KOSU in March 2018, following her undergraduate degree completion from the University of Central Oklahoma in December 2017.
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