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Student farmers’ work goes up for auction at annual breakfast

March 10, 2018 GMT

HUNTINGTON - Hundreds of people came and thousands of dollars in bids were made at the 30th annual Future Farmers of America and 4-H Ham, Bacon and Egg Show and Sale at the DoubleTree Hotel, formerly the Pullman Plaza Hotel, in Huntington on Friday.

“This event showcases FFA members’ hard work and agricultural enterprises,” said Anita Robinson, a member of the 2018 Cabell Foundation for Agricultural Advancement Committee. “It also provides an opportunity for the community to support the youth of Cabell and Lincoln counties by bidding on the students’ hams, bacons and eggs during our auction today.”

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Zachary Call, 19, of Milton, proudly displayed his grand champion brown eggs, as well as his prime ham and good bacon.

“I have been farming practically all my life, and thanks to this program I have learned the entire process of raising pigs and chickens and how I can have a career in the agricultural industry,” he said.

Call says FFA students in the program purchase feeder pigs and provide the animal with feed, water and medicine until they reach the ideal market weight.

“My hog got to about 300 pounds,” Call said.

The market hogs are then slaughtered at an inspected facility and students receive the carcass back to process into retail cuts, and then the hams and bacons are cured with a dry cure mix and smoked, he said.

“This is my last year in the program, and I feel prepared to pursue farming as a career,” he said.

Patrons of the hotel awoke to the smell of the sizzling meat and poultry filling the halls as community business leaders and guests enjoyed a complimentary breakfast before the products were auctioned off.

Call, a senior FFA member from Cabell Midland High School, said the products tasted as good as they smelled.

“The ham, bacon and eggs are fresh off the farm, and that’s hard to beat,” he said.

About 40 seasoned veterans and first-year participants brought their processed meats and eggs to the auction. The proud students, who worked throughout the year preparing the products for the event, lined the halls escorting potential buyers to view their items.

Cabell Midland student Kailey Childers earned a record $4,200 for her grand champion bacon. The previous record for bacon was $4,100, exhibited by Robbie Holley in 2016.

Bidding for the grand champion ham and grand champion eggs was still to come. The previous record sale for ham was $3,750, exhibited by Zachary Call in 2014, and $2,300 for eggs, also exhibited by Call in 2016.

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“This is a great thing for kids,” said Cabell County Commission President Bob Bailey. “These are the new generation of farmers, and this program gives them a good understanding of the agriculture industry.”

Cabell County Commissioner Jim Morgan said he has been coming to the annual event for the past 10 years.

“This program gives these students a great hands-on education about what it takes to become successful in the agriculture industry,” he said. “They learn the basics of what they have to do to get their products to the market and what they need to do once they get them there.”

Huntington City Council member Jennifer Wheeler said it was her first time at the event.

“I am excited to see all of this hard work pay off for these students,” she said. “It’s important for us to support our youth. Not only are these youth learning the business of agriculture, they are learning life skills as well.”

Cabell County Superintendent of Schools Ryan Saxe said the event helps students in the program hone and improve agriculture management and marketing skills.

“We know that students learn best when they can apply classroom knowledge to hands-on projects,” he said. “This education program strives to teach students the importance of free enterprise.”

Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.

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