Wednesday, June 13, 2012

We're a Big Family!

This last weekend I was able to help out with the Missouri Cattleman's Association All-Breeds Jr. Show in Sedalia, Mo. Attending this show is always a treat for me, because not only am I able to help out a great Jr. organization and support the next generation of beef producers, but it allows me opportunity to be around fellow cattle producers. These events are like family reunions for me because I've grown up and spent most of my summers competing and sharing memories with many of these families. We all share something that creates a strong bond and a closeness among us.
It's more than just producing cattle that brings us together. It's not just the common ties to agriculture that connect our hearts. It's the friendship that we have based on how we were raised. It's the knowledge that we can depend on one another to not only be supportive as friends, but as producers. We can trust each other to market our product, carry our vision and strive for the same goals. We have the same passions, motivations and dreams for our families and our industry.
I know many industries are like this: beef, dairy, pork, equine, crop, etc. But how many times do these industries share the same relations and friendship between one another? How often do we work together to promote agriculture in general and how many times do we really on each other to watch our back? Yes, the agriculture industries have united in recent years to face challenges from animal rights activists, government regulations and other obstacles. But I believe too many times we are more concerned about our own safety and goals to really ensure lasting sustainability for the whole agriculture community.
Take the organic vs. modern production practices. Without a doubt, there are benefits to both methods as well as drawbacks. But I'm saddened that the two groups can't combine their efforts to promote and boost agriculture in general, rather than trying to accuse and downplay each other on various issues. I will admit that I favor the modern production practices for various reasons. That doesn't mean I don't understand, respect and see a need for quality niche marketing. At the same time, I realize that there are wholesome benefits and rewards to raising livestock and crops on smaller scales using historic methods that are not see in modern production. But the problem is both groups find the need and boldness to accuse the other for their methods, beliefs and practices when issues arise and people ask questions. People feel good when they raise enough produce, beef and pork to feed their family and they know the food was raised safely and properly. At the same time, large feedlots and confinement operations are essential to providing enough food to feed this entire country and world. And both methods are done with very strict guidelines and protocols. The agriculture industry needs both groups.
If we expect to survive as an industry, we have to lay our minor differences aside and focus on the important goal-promoting agriculture. It doesn't matter if you prefer organic, grass finished or grain finished, cage free eggs or gestation crates. What's crucial is that we encourage consumers to trust the supply chain, not matter what method and help them understand that US agriculture is responsible for producing high quality and affordable food and fiber.
Everything is always enjoyable when it involves a family. I think that's why I love being in agriculture so much-no matter what industry it is, your feel like you're a part of something important. We're all in this together, so let's get together and have a big family reunion!!

Until next time, you can find me off the beaten path and ridin for the brand!!

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