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Let’s hope light stays green for Hoosier Beef Congress

Tom J. Bechman two people fit a beef cow, preparing it for a show
LIMITED ACCESS: This year, unlike past years, only the exhibitor and two other people could attend NAILE. Right now, the Hoosier Beef Congress is expected to occur Dec. 4-6, live and in person.
All systems are “go” for the traditional youth beef show, trade show and youth events.

The 34th annual Hoosier Beef Congress is set for Dec. 4-6 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. This classic show is a big deal for youth who love to show cattle. If it happens normally this year, it would be a big deal for Indiana agriculture.

“We’re planning for a regular event, with shows, contests for youth, livestock sales and a trade show,” says Joe Moore, executive director of the Indiana Beef Cattle Association. “We’re doing a benefit sale for the first 30 stalls online, but we’re planning for the show to happen in person.”

Moore notes that IBCA will submit its plan for following COVID-19 safeguards closer to the show date, which is standard procedure. However, he’s expecting the event to happen as planned.

Should there be changes, IBCA will publicize them. Keep in touch with the 2020 Hoosier Beef Congress at hoosierbeefcongress.com.

If health officials sign off on the plan, that means Grandma and Grandpa can attend and watch their grandchildren show their heifers and steers. It also means anyone interested in buying cattle, or just watching, can attend. And it means exhibitors will staff booths for the annual trade show.

Stark contrast

Why is it important for the Hoosier Beef Congress to go on as scheduled this year? First, it’s a class-act event that allows youth to get more show-ring experience as well as test their skills through other activities. But perhaps more importantly, there have been precious few live events in Indiana agriculture during the pandemic. So many events have gone virtual. And while they serve their purpose, what Indiana youth and Indiana agriculture don’t need right now is another event reduced to a virtual version.

Earlier this month, the North American International Livestock Exposition kicked off; it’s still underway. But officials in Kentucky saw fit to tighten the event so much that only exhibitors and two other people per exhibitor can attend. The shows have gone on, but grandmas and grandpas have to watch computer broadcasts or not at all. If this is their grandkid’s first time or last time to show at NAILE, it doesn’t matter. If they can’t scrounge up wristbands — and reportedly, restrictions are tight — they can’t attend.

There is no trade show, which at NAILE is usually a massive event bringing in lots of commerce to exhibitors. There are only two food booths, and the menu is carefully controlled, again limiting revenue, sometimes for volunteer groups that count on the income to fund activities during the rest of the year.

COVID-19 is a serious disease and must be respected. But decisions have consequences. For example, some Indiana FFA chapters are still reeling from the loss of income due to the 2020 Indiana State Fair being canceled. FFA groups staff livestock barns, serve ice cream at the Dairy Bar and carry out other activities to raise money.

Life must go on. People must be allowed to have experiences that help them grow and add quality to life. If that means social distancing and wearing masks when it makes sense, so be it. But it also means meeting in person, face to face — not always only through a computer.

Comments? Email tom.bechman@farmprogress.com.

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