This morning is particularly beautiful. The wind blew wildly yesterday and this morning’s particular calmness was more than welcomed. The cattle graze quietly in the muffled sunlight of the dawn. My little one and I make our way to the tractor with our coffee and chocolate milk in hand to feed the hungry bellies’ of the animals that take such good care of our family. While we ride quietly together in the tractor, I can’t help but reflect upon our way of life and the privileges and the heartache associated with it. The unprecedented family time, quality time with God and his creation, but also public scrutiny, and the never-ending criticism from the very people that we feed; are all par for the course with what we do. The news talks about the “Green New Deal” and “reducing food production’s carbon footprint”, but have any of the powers that be reflected on Agriculture’s true impact on this Country and the World? American Agriculture is the backbone of this country and fuels the mind and belly of every single American in this great nation. Where has MSM and the general population got it wrong? Why has it gone so astray? I’ll tell you.
Everywhere you turn you hear about the negative impact of Agriculture, particularly animal agriculture, on the environment. With environmental consciousness being a current “hot topic”, it seems that animal agriculture is synonymous with a negative carbon footprint. This is not accurate, nor a fair representation of the industry. After all, as I say, producers are the original environmentalists! Producers have the unique opportunity to kill two proverbial birds with one stone. We have the ability to produce the safest, most reliable source of protein in the world while also recycling our carbon emissions at the same time. Responsible, pasture-oriented, modern rotational-grazing practices have been proven to sequester the carbon emissions of cattle grazing. Between the soil absorption, plant absorption and proper animal husbandry, our industry can be beneficial to the reduction of our carbon footprint. For more information on this topic, here are some links: Environmental Footprint of Beef Production – Beef Cattle Research Council (beefresearch.ca), Methane and grazing: A broader view | Successful Farming (agriculture.com), Beef Production and Carbon Sequestration | Oklahoma State University (okstate.edu). Animal Agriculture encourages the restoration of our grasslands and helps in reducing the amount of native grasslands and important ecosystems from turning into industrial and residential land-grabs. This responsible management will allow them to enjoy and produce more food and fiber for America and the World.
Another hot-button issue associated with the meat industry is animal welfare and the ethics associated with it. Is it ethical to consume animal protein for nourishment? Yes it is. The consumption of animal protein, along with its byproducts, are some of the most nutritionally dense foods in the entire world, accompanied by the byproducts which provide us with countless resources (uses for beef cattle besides meat – Bing images). I believe that with ethical animal treatment practices and providing them with the best life possible in our care, we have honored that animal and their life. We thank them everyday for the incredible nutrition they provide to our family. What I find particularly interesting is the assumption that ranchers are animal-hating, heartless people who don’t care about the well-being of their livestock. This assumption could not be further from the truth. Animal stewardship is at the forefront of every good producers program. It has to be for a healthy and financially reliable herd. It isn’t only the right thing to do, but it’s just plain good business. Our livestock aren’t just animals to us, they’re our family. They are cared for before we are, fed before we are, sheltered before we are, they’re well-being comes before our own. Everything we do for our animals whether it be vaccinations, tagging, branding, calving, weaning, and everything in between; is all in the name of caring for them in the best way. Like in any industry, there are bad apples in the bunch, but the vast majority of producers know that without successful and ethical animal husbandry, you can’t and won’t have a successful business.
No matter what corner of the country you come from, American Agriculture directly impacts YOUR family. Without the less than 2% of the population feeding 100% of the population and beyond we would be in dire straits. We need to come together as a nation and make food production easier, not more difficult. Through legislation and public knowledge, I believe that we can give ranchers and farmers more power to produce the highest quality nutrition in the world. With many Americans, especially those with a public platform, not knowing profound hunger, it is easy to be over-critical of the people putting food on your table. Frankly, they are doing this without ever walking a mile in the American Agriculturalist’s shoes. They have no idea what it takes to keep America’s belly full. With the constant stream of “green washing” and extremist groups, our industry’s voice is being drowned out in the the noise. The best defense is a good offense. The best way that we can combat misinformation is with the truth. Bridging the gap between producer and consumer and educating with fact-based, unbias information is the best way to aid in reeducating the general public about where their food comes from. Listen, learn, and go straight to the source for your agricultural information. Don’t forget, without your local rancher or the farmer that keeps the grocery store shelves stocked, your family suffers, too. I can promise you, in this thankless profession, we are just as passionate about providing safe and affordable nutrition for your family as we are for our own. With a little bit of information, it seems that the attack on agriculture isn’t warranted or appropriate, is it?
God bless America and God bless the American Rancher and Farmer.