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EAST LANSING, MI -- This year's Michigan Livestock Expo (MLE) raised nearly $230,000 for the state's finest youth livestock exhibitors, asserting itself again as the 900-pound gorilla of Michigan livestock auctions. The event's seventh annual "Sale-abration" livestock auction July 21 showcased Michigan's finest young livestock enthusiasts and attracted a host of blue-chip buyers.

Meijer led the way again this year, spending more than $40,000 and dominating the choicest lots, buying Ben Ross' grand champion steer, hog and lamb. GreenStone Farm Credit Services and its employees purchased nearly $19,000 worth of livestock and perennial MLE supporter Binson Hospital Supplies spent more than $14,000. Crystal Flash rounded out the big spenders with almost $11,000 in purchases.

"This expo attracts the best young livestock exhibitors and the best animals, obviously," said Ernie Birchmeier, livestock specialist at Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) and one of the expo's key organizers. "Accordingly—and I can't emphasize this enough—we also attract the best buyers at this show.

"Whether they have ties to agriculture or not—some do but many of them don't—the businesses and organizations that come here from across the state to support these kids are demonstrating an impressive commitment to Michigan agriculture. Every year I struggle to find the right words to adequately express my appreciation for these people and the institutions they represent—but it's like a tough workout—the good kind of struggle!"

Altogether 35 individual lots were sold: eight steers, seven hogs, eight lambs, five goats, four dairy entries and three non-livestock lots.

Traditionally, exhibitors apply their earnings to college expenses or invest it back into their next livestock project. Proceeds above a sales cap support the Michigan Youth Livestock Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships and educational awards to youth involved in livestock exhibition. More than $50,000 from this year's sale will go to the fund.

Since it began in 2009, the MLE has quickly become the premier youth livestock show and sale in Michigan. Held in conjunction with the annual Michigan Dairy Expo, the event is unique for including multiple species and being open to young people ages 8 to 21 from anywhere in the state.

Exhibition activities evaluate exhibitors' skills and talents in the show ring with beef cattle, hogs, sheep and goats. Dairy contests occur in conjunction with the Michigan Dairy Expo. Exhibitors of award-winning animals earned the opportunity to market their livestock and dairy products to the highest bidder at the "Sale-abration" auction. All activities took place at the Michigan State University Livestock Pavilion.

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