Hokuao Arce, a 12-year-old student at Molokai Middle School in Molokai, Hawaii, is naturally following in his family’s footsteps and embracing his agricultural background.
Last year, he showed two steers and a market hog project through the Molokai 4-H Livestock Club.
Participating in 4-H livestock projects can come with a significant price tag when you consider the cost of the animal, feed, vaccinations and vet costs along with the equipment necessary to show the animal.
Arce used a USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Youth Loan to finance his livestock project. This is his second time to use the Youth Loan program, which he learned about when his local FSA representative visited a 4-H meeting.
FSA Youth Loans help youth between the ages of 10 and 21 start and operate income-producing projects in connection with their participation in 4-H, the National FFA Organization, a Tribal youth group, or other similar agricultural youth organization. Youth Loans provide an opportunity for young entrepreneurs to acquire experience and education in agriculture-related skills.
“It’s essential that we provide youth with hands-on agriculture opportunities to ensure we have farmers and ranchers in future generations,” said Buddy Nichols, FSA farm loan manager.
Arce added: “The FSA loan allowed me to purchase my animals, feed and supplies needed in order to successfully raise my 4-H livestock projects.”
He showed his market steer named Easton, a Lim-Flex breed, at the Molokai Livestock County Expo. Arce started Easton on a feed ration when he weighed 628 pounds. Fast forward 184 days and Easton weighed more than 1,260 pounds, a daily gain of almost 3.5 pounds.
On show day, Arce showed the steer with ease winning Grand Champion, and earning a spot in the County Expo Sale. Auction bidders pushed the price all the way to $8 per pound. Friendly Market Center bought the steer for more than $10,000.
Arce showed his second steer and his market hog at the State Expo on Oahu. His steer placed fourth in the carcass placing and his swine won fourth place.
“Raising three projects at once was a challenge for me, but I was able to successfully complete all projects thanks to the help of my ohana (family),” said Arce.
Farming Runs in the Family
Arce’s success and interest in agriculture is in his blood. His grandfather, father and siblings were all involved in 4-H. Arce’s grandparents operate Arce’s Farm where they grow a variety of local vegetables, mainly for subsistence living. Each year, they host an Octoberfest event at the farm that includes vendors and a pumpkin patch.
In the future, Arce plans to remain involved in agriculture. He wants to continue raising steer projects throughout middle and high school. As a family, they want to plant and farm more citrus trees on their land.
“I would definitely recommend the youth loan program as it has helped me to achieve my goals of raising my project from the start to the end of my project,” said Arce. “I, as well as other kids in the program, would not be able to raise and purchase feed and supplies without the help of this loan program.”
In addition to raising livestock, Arce also plays baseball in the Molokai Little League. This year, he made the Molokai All Star team and traveled off-island for the tournament on Maui, just a week before the County Expo.