This week, a measure was introduced in Congress to eliminate the therapeutic use of antibiotics in livestock production. Meanwhile, other legislators recently introduced a measure to protect livestock producers from the prospect of a tax on their animals’ flatulence. And I hesitate to even mention the momentum building behind the animal-rights issue.
I'm a huge believer in science, animal welfare, proper nutrition, protecting the environment. And I have been on a lot of ranches and witnessed the way ranchers take care of the land and how they treat their animals.
While no one would mistake me for a member of the intelligentsia, it’s obvious to me that the bacon and steak I eat isn't nearly as big of a problem as potato chips, cases of coke, donuts and lack of exercise. I also understand that the 40-mile roundtrip to town to get those donuts is a much bigger concern as it relates to global warming than my cows are. Heck, weren't there millions of buffalo out here on the Plains centuries ago?
Sure, I understand the dynamics. We’re an easy target, we run on the land that they want to control, we’ve shown disdain for their pseudo science, and even our politics have tended to make us a logical adversary. Still, sometimes I sit back and have to ask, “Did I do something to offend these people?”
Truth be told, I’d really like to correct the misunderstanding. First, here’s my confession. Yes, I once chewed tobacco. And I kicked at my kids’ puppy when he was chasing cows up and down the alleyway when I was trying to move them. I’ve also said unflattering things to my wife when working cattle. And I have on occasion exhibited a condescending, superior attitude toward someone from urban America seated next to me on a plane after they tried to tell me how to manage my land.
All of us in ag are works in progress. Yes, sometimes I'm more concerned about feeding my children and a starving world than higher-minded approaches to saving the planet. For all of that, I offer an official apology.
And so I say to my detractors: "I do make it to the city fairly often, and I spend some time in your nice restaurants and take advantage of your culture. While I wouldn't trade places with you, I salute and admire you.
"Stop by and spend some time with my family; the coffee pot is on. You might still regard me as unsophisticated or naïve, but I know my kids will impress you. They say “please” and “thank you,” and they’ll look you in the eye and give you a firm handshake. They also understand how to work, and they see the application of science and economics in practice every day. After meeting them, I think you'll find we really aren't the enemy."
-- Troy Marshall