Despite record prices and an ag sector that’s outperformed about every industry in America, our industry isn’t operating under a prosperity mentality. For instance, we aren’t talking seriously about building domestic demand, nor about expanding and increasing producer profitability.
However, we are talking about drought, and ignorant fiscal policies that ultimately will wreak havoc on demand. We’re also talking about activists that outnumber us, and who outspend us by factors of 10:1 or greater.
As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve never known a group of harder-working, more optimistic, and take-charge people than cattle producers. They live by the motto of Larry the Cable Guy – they just “git ’r done.”
However, we’ve been inundated by those within our ranks who continue to blame the problems and challenges we face squarely on others. They tell us we must seek legislative relief and rely on the government to fix our problems, that the pie is shrinking and our only concern is to fight over our piece.
It’s a message that runs contrary to our inherent values. It isn’t a new message; it’s been around since the beginning of time. But it’s one inherent in a commodity market mindset, where no individual producer has much say in determining price, and where history tells us we must be reactive rather than proactive.
But perhaps there is a trend that is even more dangerous to our long-term health than the populist rhetoric that seeks to protect us from the invisible hand of the marketplace. It’s exemplified in the belief that success doesn’t come from better meeting societal and consumer interests, but by confiscating from others within our industry.
That’s why we’ve seen more effort being expended on internal fights and the demonization of entire segments of our industry, and even organizations within segments. It’s time to reject the message of those attempting to have us believe that our industry is in decline and, rather than grow it, the only course is to cannibalize it in a way that benefits some.
Like the overall economy, the greatest threat isn’t a lack of innovation and entrepreneurs with the will to move it forward. It’s a lack of faith or vision of what the future can and should be.