Yesterday, I celebrated my “first” 29th birthday working and sorting calves. It was a beautiful fall day spent with family doing what we love. When I count my blessings, I certainly count them twice, and I never take my husband, kids, cattle and quiet country life for granted.
I want to believe I’ve gotten smarter in the last decade, particularly in the seven years that have passed since I graduated from college and got involved in production agriculture as an adult. However, it seems the older I get, the more I realize how much I don’t know. The beef cattle industry is one that is constantly changing, yet the goal of producing safe, high-quality beef remains the same. We need to continually grow and learn and ask questions and listen in order to achieve long-term success in this business.
This fall, I’ve attended several cattlemen’s meetings and listened to a variety of perspectives on current cattle prices and how we got here, and as we try to make sense of the myriad of factors that have contributed to the sharpest fall in cattle prices that I’ve seen in my lifetime, I know one thing is for certain — all ranchers who are invested in this business want to do what is best, but we might have differing ideas on how to get that accomplished.
Just like the divisiveness of the 2016 election, it seems the beef industry has plenty of issues that are extremely polarizing. At times, this growing chasm is very frustrating; I mean, how many blog posts have I written about coming together for the greater good of the industry? In my opinion, with ongoing external threats from animal rights and environmental activists and overreaching federal agencies, presenting a united front on certain issues would certainly be worth coming together for.
However, I realize that getting every rancher, backgrounder, stocker, feeder, packer and retailer to agree on all the issues facing our industry is a nearly insurmountable task. Even though every sector of the industry is intertwined with the other, we all have our own interests and our own businesses to think about, as well.
I guess what I’m trying to say is even if unity is a difficult goal to achieve, I think if we can learn one thing from President-Elect Donald Trump’s win, it’s that every voice matters. Rural America was largely ignored by the Clinton camp during the election, and as a result, she had a tough time appealing to the blue collar working class. I still think the media is working to pick their jaws up off the floor and realize that we are still here in these flyover states, and we want our voices heard.
The industry should not sit idle in the next 100 days before Trump takes over the reins in Washington, D.C. If you want your voice heard, it’s time to pick up the phone and talk to your elected officials about the issues you’re facing in the beef cattle business. Additionally, it may also be time to renew your dues and support the cattle industry organizations that best align with your views and beliefs.
We may not all be able to come together, but we should all make an effort to be at the table and have these important discussions. Get involved, stay active, ask questions, demand answers and keep your eyes on the prize. A new administration offers a fresh start for the industry; it’s time for us to capitalize on it the best we can.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.