Farming is a way of life for Ag Show veterans
The annual Agricultural Exhibition is a tradition that represents Bermudian culture, but for some the work behind it has become a way of life.
Veteran dairy farmer David Lopes has been participating in the Ag Show since 1957. And Ronnie Lopes of the Poultry Fanciers Association has been at it since 1976 when he was given bantams as a high school graduation gift.
For the veteran broadcaster who tends to his animals way before he hits the airwaves at 6am, the event has had its ups and downs over the years. But he said it’s definitely on the upswing this year.
And he had high praise for the Poultry Fanciers Association members in Bermuda.
“You can’t say enough about Ronnie Lopes because he’s the one who put that whole show together for the Poultry Fanciers, he set up the cages and he does up all the tags.
“The entries close about a week before the show and that all has to be processed so you know how many cages you need and what size you need.
“I’m not sure Bermudians appreciate how much work goes into this show, but you just don’t know; unless you’re involved with livestock which is 365 days of the year. It’s like having a child, there’s no day off,” he said.
But the fallout leading up to the show between local farmers and the Environment Ministry was “a bit of a smoke screen” in his view.
“There’s a lot of bureaucracy that you have to go through when you import things. Even with me as a dairy farmer wanting to import fly spray, that’s going to cost me about $75 before I even kill a fly.
“The bureaucracy that you have to go through I don’t think is necessary, we need to be vigilant but I don’t think we need to be so stringent. I think it’s a matter of the powers that be and the farmers sitting down and working this whole thing out; it’s called communication,” said Mr Lopes.
On Minister’s call for more people to grow their own food he said: “I think people should grow their own food anyway regardless of what the cost of food is.
“I’ve been saying for a long time now that the day is going to come when you’re going to go in the grocery store, you’re going to have money in your pocket and what you’re looking for is not going to be there.
“Since I started showing in this exhibition in 1957, I think the world’s population has tripled. We’ve got to feed a lot more people and if they don’t come up with a plan we’re all going to starve one way or the other.
“Either we’re going to feed people or we’re not and I’m not saying that genetically modified food or seeds are the right thing for Bermuda because I don’t think it is, but we’ve got a challenge on our hands to feed the population of the world. And on an island like Bermuda, the more you can grow your own the better.”
Meanwhile, for Ronnie Lopes the real work starts around Christmas time and moves into high gear by February.
“This year has been very good because we had some people who used to show and exhibit poultry years ago and they’ve come back and they were so eager to volunteer and help; so it helped me out a lot.
“I had a lot more volunteers to work with and they were there for me,” he said. “There’s a lot involved, you have to figure out what judge you’re going to bring to Bermuda for the event.”
The judge for poultry and pigeon entries this year was Don Rosco of Minnesota who has been to Bermuda four times, three times as a judge and once for a vacation.
Asked for his take on the entries, he replied: “It was much larger this year, particularly in poultry, the pigeons were down a little bit but there were a lot more poultry than when I was here a few years ago.”
To some, all the birds may look alike but Mr Rosco noted that they’re not the same everywhere as each region has their own specialities. And while he has seen quite a few he said Bermuda has some of the best poultry he’s ever seen.
“Let’s say there are five or six varieties, and there are literally hundreds of varieties but I would say that Bermuda has some of the finest of what you’re going to see. I think it’s because you have people here who have been working with them for years.
“Like Mr Lopes who has been working with poultry for more than 30 years, usually after so many years people have a tendency to get it right,” he said.
“I love coming to Bermuda and when I had the opportunity to come here again I jumped at it because it’s such a beautiful place. But I think I’ll let somebody else have the opportunity to come and see just how beautiful Bermuda really is.”
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