NCCA Executive DIrector's report june 2021


       I love the saying that the “simple things in life are free”.  I could not agree more.  A sunrise on a bright green field of grass with calves running on full is simple, free and welcome.  On the other hand, an evening rain on a dry pasture with cows who would give more milk if they had a little grass, is also simple, free and welcome. 

    I think in many cases, what one sees as a blessing, others may see as a curse.  It all depends on their perspective, their situation, their experiences and maybe their opinion.  My little example that I think we can all relate to, has a purpose.  It is to remind me that even what we consider the most simple things may be complex if we look a little deeper. 

   Hopefully, this column can make us all think a bit about what we think we have in common and what we consider differences.  As we ponder these, we may realize that what seems to be a simple solution to us may be an overwhelming complexity to others. 

  The world we live in proves every day that we do not all see eye to eye on lots of things.  What we all want is to be happy, successful and healthy and we certainly want those things for our family and friends as well.  In our country, there are so many things that we see on the news that highlights our differences but in the end, don’t or at least should we not strive for those same three things I mentioned above? 

   The cattle business is no different.  We have differences that is certain, but it is my opinion that we have much more that we agree on than we disagree on.  Agriculture and certainly, the cattle business are a microcosm of life and society in general.  We all have a love of cattle and the land and our interactions with them.  To think we are all in the business for the same reasons would be misguided.

     My dad and I are a perfect example.  We both get excited to see the grass grow.  I get excited because it allows me to contemplate how to pull polywire and graze it to the greatest potential.  My dad gets excited because he is going to get to mow and bale it and get the best hay possible.  We are both getting excited about growing grass and healthy, well fed cattle but we have different paths and motivations to accomplish the task.

    What is simple and exciting to me is not necessarily to him and a mower/conditioner and a hay baler present a level of complexity to me that is overwhelming.  Neither of the paths are wrong, just different.  Hopefully, if we plan well, work hard and are blessed with a little luck we can use the grass for the nourishment of the kind of cattle we want to produce even though our methods may not be the same.

   My point is that in North Carolina, with our differences in climate, elevation, soil types, population, available land, marketing opportunities and a myriad of other factors, raising cattle is not a cookie cutter proposition.  When you factor in all of these things, it is evident that raising cattle can be very complex. 

   Being part of the cattle industry raises that level of complexity even more when you factor in outside forces such as the economy, weather anomalies, regulatory issues and don’t forget public opinion. We are fortunate in North Carolina and across the country to have seasoned and experienced cattlemen and women of all ages that create stability to our industry with time proven methods and practices that keep our industry strong.

   It is also a blessing that we constantly have new producers young and old who enter the business with enthusiasm to get involved and try something innovative.  What is really exciting to me is that often these two like minded individuals or groups wind up working together in the same area or even on the same farm to try a new twist on an old idea and take the complexity of experience and new ideas and create a SIMPLE solution. 

    Seems to me that the only thing simple about that is the part about working together.   Our industry is dealing with the daunting task of remaining viable among the current challenges of the market, the regulatory arena and the court of public opinion. 

   Many who are trying to make decisions for our industry are from outside and have no idea about what the implications of their proposals would do not only to our farm families but the families across the world who depend on the food that you grow. 

  Others are trying to change the way we produce animals or even prevent us from doing so, thinking that they are protecting the environment.  In this case, if they only realized that we have the exact same objectives and have been successful at achieving them. 

   Case in Point, Generational Farms.  We also have people within the industry who suggest simple solutions to solve complex problems often because they only have experience or education in the segment of the industry or the part of the country they are in.  These simple solutions from within or without are rarely the answer. 

   Working together to help each other see the complexities and look for solutions seems to be a much healthier approach.  As complex and different as the industry is in our state based on the challenges of each individual farm, imagine the complexities and differences there are across the country and the vast beef industry from conception to consumption. 

   It is clear to me that there are very few simple solutions to meet all of the challenges we face.  I am very encouraged however that many groups that have a stake in our industry have sat down in a room to work on solutions.

     From the press reports I have read, I am even more encouraged that they realized that there were more things everyone agreed on than those they did not see eye to eye on.  They appear to be working together to strengthen the resolve on those agreeable items and hopefully will be able to work on finding ways to work through the differences on others.  

   Our industry has always faced challenges.  Each time they seemed to be insurmountable.  I am proud however that in the end we found a way to work together to meet those challenges and come out stronger on the other side. 

   The lessons learned from sunny days and rainy days and being thankful for both are what makes us who we are and makes us want to be around others with the same aspirations even if the paths look very different.

    Maybe the solution is SIMPLE.  Maybe we realize that the complexity of our challenges are our blessings and our differences are a reason to get together to achieve the goals we all have.