When an emergency occurs, like a wildfire, residents are forced to pick up and leave within a moment’s notice. For those with livestock, it can be extremely difficult to find somewhere to house and care for the animals. 

Two groups, the California Department of Food and Agriculture and California Farm Bureau Federation, announced this week that they would be donating a total of 280 livestock pens to fairgrounds around the state to help house sheep, goats and swine during emergency evacuations or fair events. 

The announcement was made during a ribbon cutting on Tuesday at the Yuba-Sutter Fairgrounds, which has been the landing spot for many regional residents during recent catastrophes, like the Cascade Fire in 2017 and Camp Fire in 2018.

“I think it’s really important to make sure the fairgrounds have the resources they need and are prepared for emergencies,” said Dave Dillabo, CEO of the Yuba-Sutter Fairgrounds. “This is just another step to be more prepared for the next disaster. Emergencies aren’t planned, and you have to be ready on the spur of a moment to take in people and animals if your fairgrounds are nearby. Now, we will be better equipped to do that through this project.”

Dillabo said during those two events, livestock animals had to be relocated to other fairgrounds that had the needed resources and pens to care for the animals. 

He said the new pens will make a big difference for fair managers across the region, not only for the local fairgrounds.

The portable pens cost a total of $126,000 to purchase. The groups chose seven locations across the state to house the pens for their respective areas. 

The Yuba-Sutter Fairgrounds will house the Sacramento region’s 40 pens, and when a need arises, the fairgrounds will work with others to supply the livestock pens to the impacted area.

Other sites that will house the pens (6’x6’) include Gold Country Fairgrounds, Lake County Fairgrounds, Merced County Fairgrounds, San Mateo County Exposition and Fair, Shasta District Fairgrounds, and the Ventura County Fairgrounds.

The Farm Bureau’s charitable foundation, California Bountiful Foundation, created a Farm and Rural Disaster Fund following the Camp Fire. Donations through that fund from 50 individuals and companies allowed the foundation to contribute $75,000 toward the purchase of the livestock pens. 

“These portable livestock pens will make it easier for fairgrounds to fulfill their role as shelters during disasters,” said Jamie Johansson, president of the California Farm Bureau Federation. “…Already this fall, we’ve seen the pens used to help livestock during the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County. We also look forward to having them used for happier occasions, such as ongoing events at county fairgrounds around the state.”

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