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Dixie National sale set new record high
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The 2004 Dixie National Sale of Junior Champions was an event for the record books as buyers set a new high total and paid a record price for a market hog.
More than 60 buyers at the Feb. 12 sale paid $197,684 for the 35 champion animals displayed by 4-H and FFA members. The previous record of $186,701 was set in 1999.
Gov. Haley Barbour told exhibitors that lessons such as self-reliance and responsibility learned raising and showing livestock will serve them well the rest of their lives.
"The animals out here today look like shiny pennies and the kids are so proud of them, and rightly so," Barbour said.
Eager hog buyers paid top dollar for the grand champion hog, a cross shown by Hinds County 4-H'ers Walter and Walinda Jackson and Porche and Kenyatta Scott of Jackson. Buyers Wilson Packing Co. and Wilson Farms Inc. paid $55 a pound for a total of $13,970 for this hog.
Walter Jackson, 15, has shown hogs at the Dixie National for eight years and has had an animal in the Sale for five of those years. He attributed his success to good hogs and good luck. "You have to put a lot in, but you get a lot out," he said of the work involved in showing his grand champion hog.
Gale Chrestman, 4-H livestock specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said an improved economy and buyers' continued support of the life lessons learned in livestock projects prompted buyers to set a new sale record.
"Friendly bidding drove up the price on the record-breaking hog," Chrestman said. "Mr. Jack Wilson has been a friend of the sale for many years. He felt it was time to break a record."
The high steer at the sale went for $13 a pound for a total of $16,939; the top lamb sold for $46 a pound for a total of $6,670; and the top market goat sold for $2,937 at $33 a pound.
"I don't know how you can put a price tag on what you do for youth," said David Waide, president of Mississippi Farm Bureau and one of the buyers at the Sale. "The kids work hard showing animals, and we're glad to help that effort."
Youth use proceeds from the sale to continue their livestock projects and to fund their future college educations.
"We try to make all the Farm Bureau-members' animals
make a little bit more at the Sale than the other animals," Waide said. "We're trying to support this youth program because of the potential it has on the future."
Of the eight steers in the Sale of Junior Champions, five were from Smith County. Extension area livestock agent Lance Newman said volunteers, parents, youth and businesses help make the county's livestock program a success.
"Everyone works together to benefit the kids," Newman said.
Charles Waldrup, Smith County Extension director, said the experience of showing animals is just a small part of what the youth learn.
"This is one of the few programs that the whole family can participate in. They all have something to do, and exhibitors can work together," he said.
Exhibitors who did not qualify for this year's sale competed for 20 $1,000 academic scholarships given to outstanding youth by generous supporters of the Dixie National Junior Livestock Show. Five premier exhibitors each received scholarships of $500 or $1,000, while the exhibitors of the supreme beef female and bull each received $1,000 scholarships.