The morning frost grips to the pine needles; snow sparkles on top of the bales in the much needed warmth of the early spring sun. Our ranch dog, Doc, runs to the food bowl in eager anticipation of his breakfast, the barn cats are never far behind. He’s not the only one that needs fed first-thing this chilly morning. The cows and calves are (im)patiently waiting by the gate for their morning feed and for ice to be chopped. With our cup of hot coffee, the baby’s snow suit and mittens on, the tractor and pickups warmed up to start chores, we say a little prayer that our day and mother nature brings good fortune and we care for our land and livestock to the best of our abilities.
Everyday, we worry. That seems to consume so much of the Rancher and Farmer’s time; worry. Will the calves bring the price we need? Will this next blizzard kill cattle? Will that pickup need replaced this year? Will this next election affect our ability to continue to do what we do? The thing about agriculture is that our fate hinges on mother nature, politics, and the markets; all three being highly unpredictable and worrisome. What are the less than 2% to do if the next election brings a President who doesn’t understand the repercussions of their policies on the heartland of America? It scares me, and I know it scares many others, too. I think the scariest thing about our current political climate is the ignorance and arrogance of the people who set policies for us. Has a senator from New York ever woke up in the early hours of the morning to calve heifers in a blizzard? Has a Hollywood socialite ever even visited a dairy before making inaccurate and damaging assumptions about how cream gets to your coffee? Has an elected official from California ever doctored all day in a feedlot just to make ends meet and make sure the consumer gets a safe, healthy, and reliable source of protein in the local grocery store? I don’t think so. What disturbs me so much is that anyone can get on the internet and find falsified information about agriculture and take it as gospel. The general public is so disconnected from the Farm, that they don’t even know what to believe anymore or where to get the information. The fact is, if you have never been to a ranch, dairy, farm, or spoken to someone with first-hand knowledge in the industry, it is dangerous and wrong to make assumptions about it. I can honestly tell you, that someone that has never lived anywhere but Los Angeles or in the heart of Manhattan doesn’t have a clue what it takes for less than 2% of the population to feed 100% of the population EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. What I’m getting at is, if you don’t know, if you haven’t lived it, if you haven’t rushed a c-section cow to the vet in the middle of the night, or farmed into the early hours of the morning to get the seed planted before the rain, you don’t know. If you don’t know, ask. Ask someone who lives, eats, and breathes it because those are the people who know where your food comes from. They can give you the most accurate and truthful story of how that prime Black Angus t-bone got to your plate or how the cereal made it to the shelves of the grocery store, how the shirt made it to your closet, or how that fabulous glass of merlot made it to your fancy dinner. So much of your everyday life is made possible by the American Rancher and Farmer; we need to elect officials that make our life easier and possible, too.
As an industry, it is so incredibly important for us to make ourselves available to the general public when it comes to education. As I look out over the frosty stubble with satisfied cows munching away at their forage; I know this way of life is worth protecting. I know so many people in our industry who are willing to educate; to talk to whoever will listen about how food gets from our Ranch, to your table. Please, I beg of our country, we need to be aware of how our current political and social climate can negatively impact the people and families who produce America’s food. Without the American Farmer and Rancher you wouldn’t have food, clothing, libations, fossil-fuel alternatives, and many textiles. Agriculture is the single most important industry to every single American citizen, period; and we as a country need to do everything in our power to protect it. America’s heartland and its ability to produce a safe, reliable, and affordable source of food and fiber hinges on the next election. Please, go out and vote to support the people who make it possible for you and your family to eat everyday. I promise you, your next meal won’t grow in the back of Walmart. Be educated, be an advocate, and beware of propaganda. God bless the American Patriot and the American Farmer and Rancher.