Division not good for marriage or cattle business

October 10, 2016

4 Min Read
Division not good for marriage or cattle business

Over the weekend, we moved pairs home, weaned and worked calves and photographed heifers for our sale coming up in a few weeks. With a baby in a carrier and a rowdy toddler in tow, we managed to get everything accomplished before the end of the weekend. Needless to say, it was a whirlwind couple of days, and on top of it all, my husband Tyler and I celebrated six years of marriage on the eighth of October.

Six years ago, I probably wouldn’t have pictured myself spending a romantic anniversary covered in mud and baby spit-up while working cattle all day, but I know that not many have the privilege of working alongside their loved ones in a business they are so passionate about. 

While we worked, Tyler and I reflected over the last six years and how much has changed. We purchased a ranch that neighbors our folks, acquired cattle, had two children, and are gearing up to buy another round of cows as opportunities arise in these down cattle markets.

READ: First comes love, then comes cattle -- and other marriage advice

We’re young and ambitious, and perhaps a little naive, but despite the volatile markets, political uncertainty and fighting within the cattle industry, we’re pretty excited about this next phase in our marriage and partnership in our seedstock business. We refuse to let fear, pessimism and external threats deter us from reaching our goals.

Granted, I’ve always been a glass-full kind of person; I choose to see the good in things instead of dwelling on the worst. Unfortunately, many in the beef business are falling trap to the fear-mongering and doom and gloom that is being discussed at local auction barns around the country.

Is the packer out to get us? Is NCBA working against us? Has the beef checkoff been a waste of time and resources? How did the markets get to this point? How are we going to weather this storm? When things are at their worst, it’s easy to point fingers, assign blame and let our worries overcome us.

Troy Marshall probably says it best in his most recent column titled, “Fear and loathing in the cattle industry.” Marshall writes, “Until about 20 years ago, the beef industry avoided the politics of division. We knew we were too small and too outnumbered to waste time attacking each other. We argued, we debated, we voted and then we rode for the brand.

READ: War, marriage & the cattle business

“Sadly, those days are gone. The activist groups within our industry have to stay alive and relevant and their very existence is based on challenging the largest member-driven institutions in our industry. So with the market collapse, we have seen the re-emergence of those who seek to divide.

“Their story is the same as always; the other side is corrupt, beholding to someone else than its membership, and their aim is to stoke the flames of discontent in order to raise money and regain relevance.”

We are seeing more fear-driven agendas within the cattle industry that aim to divide, weaken and cripple our industry, and animal rights activists love to see us tear each other apart from within -- it makes their jobs easier, after all.

If we want things to change, we must change ourselves. We cannot continue to go negative every time the going gets tough. We need to count our blessings, be smart in our investments and have a little faith that we will be able to ride out this storm.

Just like a marriage, every sector of the beef industry relies on the other, so this divide and conquer strategy we are seeing in the cattle business currently isn’t going to make anyone stronger. We’ve got to stick together to ward off activist threats, enhance beef demand at home and abroad, and support the current and future generations of this business. Only by working together can we achieve these goals.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.

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