Expo Boeuf or­ga­niz­ers “se­ri­ously con­cerned” about the fu­ture

Sherbrooke Record - - FRONT PAGE - By Clau­dia Ville­maire

In its nine­teenth year, the largest ex­hi­bi­tion of beef an­i­mals in Que­bec will face se­ri­ous new chal­lenges. As gov­ern­ment fund­ing dwin­dles and the cost of pre­sent­ing such a large event con­tin­ues to in­crease, the or­ga­niz­ers be­hind the Expo Boeuf beef fes­ti­val in Vic­to­ri­av­ille are not op­ti­mistic about the years to come.

An­dre Beau­mont, Sec­re­tary on the CBDRBQ, (Com­mis­sion Con­jointe des Races Bovines de Que­bec) and Pres­i­dent of the Beef Show or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee, is se­ri­ously wor­ried by the fact that gov­ern­ment fund­ing is slated to end in March of next year.

"We feel this is an im­por­tant event to

all se­ri­ous breed­ers of qual­ity beef an­i­mals," he said, "and we'll meet soon to try to find so­lu­tions to this prob­lem.”

Rick Bushey, a Danville area Her­ford breeder and mem­ber of the or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee de­plores the present sit­u­a­tion.

"If you look at the cost of pre­sent­ing a show of this size and qual­ity; rent­ing a full-sized coli­seum and sta­bling area to ac­com­mo­date up to 600 cat­tle, in­clud­ing, in the past, prize money, (there was no prize money this year), the cost can get well into six fig­ures."

The cost, ac­cord­ing to Bushey, is re­lated to the times we live in. He ex­plained that la­bor cost for this type of show re­quires the re­moval of the ice sur­face, re-sur­fac­ing with proper ma­te­ri­als such as sand and shav­ings for three days and fi­nally the clean-up and re-ic­ing.

"Few peo­ple re­al­ize the costs the ex­hibitor has to deal with ei­ther. We 'bed' each an­i­mal we bring and that can run to over $200 for a show­line of nine or ten an­i­mals. Ev­ery an­i­mal we show re­quires a reg­is­tra­tion fee of $35. There's trans­port to pay and for the ex­hibitors who come from far away, there's at least three nights in lo­cal ac­com­mo­da­tion. I talked to one mo­tel owner who was booked solid from Thurs­day to Sun­day morn­ing and he in­sisted there wasn't any ac­com­mo­da­tion left in town,” Bushey said. “The eco­nomic im­pact to this town and area is ap­pre­ci­ated, and many of the folks in­volved in ac­com­mo­da­tion and restau­ra­tion are wor­ried this event might not con­tinue an­other year."

Sev­eral or­ga­niz­ers are al­ready pre­par­ing brain­storm­ing ses­sions and are ready to send del­e­ga­tions to the Min­is­ter of Agriculture. They are also pre­par­ing to meet with UPA and any­one they think might help out. With 140 fewer an­i­mals on ex­hibit than last year and al­ready al­most half as many as the first shows nearly twenty years ago, or­ga­niz­ers re­al­ize this is also, in part, due to fewer beef pro­duc­ers over all.

"This show is still not only a show­place but also a mar­ket place where beef pro­duc­ers look­ing for re­pro­duc­tion can­di­dates for their herd that will pro­vide a can­di­date or two that fits their pock­et­book. “Bushey said. “His­tor­i­cally this has been the event where up­grad­ing is made pos­si­ble. You don't have to pur­chase the first place win­ner. This has been a show where ex­hibitors bring the best they have and qual­ity an­i­mals down the show­line has been the cus­tom."

At any rate, the week­end show, even with­out prize money, was still an ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple of top qual­ity beef an­i­mals from sev­eral prov­inces. Eastern Town­ships breed­ers were se­ri­ous con­tenders for those sought-af­ter cham­pi­onship rib­bons in sev­eral breeds. Salers, Here­fords, An­gus, Shorthorn, Sim­men­tal, Charo­lais, High­land - all turned out for the show. On dis­play were the new­est ad­di­tion to beef pro­duc­tion; the Speckle Park breed from Eng­land which is now be­ing used with An­gus pro­duc­ing the Wagyu beef, a del­i­cacy in top-of-the-line eater­ies across Canada.

"Oh yes, we'll do every­thing to keep this show go­ing," Bushey em­pha­sized. "There'll be brain­storm­ing ses­sions, dis­cus­sions with gov­ern­ment, UPA and what­ever or­ga­ni­za­tion can help us con­tinue. We hope more spon­sors will come for­ward as well. The con­sumer wants qual­ity beef at a rea­son­able price. Rais­ing beef an­i­mals which trans­form feed ef­fi­ciently into well-mar­bled, tasty beef is ev­ery beef pro­ducer’s goal. And if he can ei­ther prove this with his top-of-the­line an­i­mals or achieve his goal with care­ful pur­chase of qual­ity an­i­mals at a show like this one, then it's easy to see how im­por­tant this event is."

CLAU­DIA VILLE­MAIRE

Amanda Bushey tak­ing top hon­ors prov­ing beef breed­ers in the Town­ships are among the best. Com­peti­tors from the Mar­itimes in­clud­ing Prince Ed­ward Is­land as well as On­tario and across Que­bec have con­sis­tently turned out just about ev­ery year, mak­ing this show not only the largest in Que­bec but a show­place for ex­am­ples of some of the best in many breeds of beef cat­tle.

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