‘The Stanley Cup Finals of the cattle world’: Ranchers hope to beef up business as Agribition begins

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WATCH: Ranchers from across Canada and the United States are arriving in Regina for the Canada Western Agribition – Nov 24, 2019

You might have noticed a few more cowboy hats than usual floating around Regina.

Canada Western Agribition (CWA) — billed as “the best beef show on the continent” — begins Monday and runs through Saturday.

Organizers expect the 49th edition of the event to draw around 130,000 visitors during its six-day run, including guests from more than 75 countries.

READ MORE: Canadian Western Agribition announces free admission deal with Roughriders

“We’re like the Stanley Cup Finals of the cattle world, so if you win at other shows you can compete at Agribition,” said CWA CEO Chris Lane.

“A win, or a good showing, at Agribition can really make a purebred cattle operation.”

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The last event on the Canadian cattle show calendar, Agribition features some of the top-rated cattle in the country. Each year ranchers vie to win the RBC Beef Supreme Challenge, which pits champions from 16 other major cattle shows against each other.

Dawn Wilson, who owns Miller Wilson Angus with her husband, won last year’s Challenge.

“It really creates a buzz, there’s lots and lots of champions in that ring and to come out on top of those champions is pretty exciting,” Wilson said.

She praised CWA’s global reach.

“Agribition does such a wonderful job of bringing international people in, but even after the fact they do such a job of advertising, so you get to touch people in the industry who aren’t even here,” she said. “So winning the Beef Supreme Challenge is a really big deal for us.”

READ MORE: From goat yoga to motocross, here’s what’s new at Agribition in Regina

Wilson has been coming to CWA for decades. In fact, her ranch won the first-ever Supreme Beef Challenge 20 years ago.

Some exhibitors have a slightly shorter tenure. The Cornerstone Cattle Company, which ranches just south of Sedley, Sask., is at CWA for the very first time this week.

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Owner Kyle Niemegeer started growing his herd, which will join about 2,500 other livestock animals at the show, about five years ago. He said making it to Agribition has been a long time in the making.

“It takes a lot of patience. We bought a few high-end females over the last few years and we just continued to grow the program,” he said.

While winning the challenge would be nice, Niemegeer says his main goal for the week is to network and discuss genetics and breeding practices with some of the best in the business.

“We’re just looking here at this show to see what everybody else is doing and make sure we’re on the right track,” he said,  “and see where we compare with some of the guys who have been around for decades.”

Organizers say CWA is projected to have a $73.6 million provincial economic impact.

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association says Canada exported $2.75 billion worth of beef in 2018.

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