I occasionally wonder if my thinking is wrong. Then again, I’m not sure I would call it being wrong as much as an evolution of thinking.
When I got out of school, I was on the low-cost speaking circuit. One of my favorite slides made the point that we are involved in agribusiness, not agriculture. I was right that in order for a business to be sustainable, it first has to be profitable. However, I also learned that the correlation between money and happiness is pretty low, and that culture was as equally important as business. Lifestyle is a big part of the equation.
But in the never-ending evolution of thought that comes with age, I have figured out that lifestyle is also not the right term. Profitability, business and sustainability are definitely part of the equation. But lifestyle is not totally accurate either.
Lifestyle seems to be about feelings or emotions, and what makes agriculture special and what sets agribusiness apart from other industries is that there is a code, based on values, on absolute truths. At its core, there is faith and hard work. Of course, those may be more prevalent in agriculture than other industries, but they certainly are not exclusive.
The code hasn’t been defined definitively and it isn’t exclusive by any means, but what makes agriculture unique is that this code is so foundational that it is not written down or codified. It simply is a series of unwritten understandings: take care of the land and the animals first; your word is your bond; it isn’t that the pursuit of wealth is bad, but that true passion is the driver.
Again, these traits are not exclusive to the livestock industry. But those values, coupled with a level of passion that is pretty unique, make the cattle business a special calling.