We are in the waning hours of 2010 so I guess I am like everyone else and looking back on the year. It was a successful year in agriculture. Did we make money? Some of us did, I suppose, but that is not how we measure success. In agriculture, the measure of success is getting to farm or ranch for another year. So for those of us who know we will get another shot at farming and ranching in 2011, 2010 was a good year.
The pressure on our family farms and ranches gets increasingly greater each year and it comes from many different directions. Government oversight continues to increase. From decreasing the necessary medicines available to us to treat our livestock to determining arbitrary measures of how good our air and water are. Many times these standards are higher than what the elements would be if humans had never arrived here. The bottom line is that the standards we are held to are determined by bureaucrats who have never set foot on our land.
However, the greatest challenge to farmers and ranchers are the special interest groups. HSUS, PETA, the Sierra Club, etc... are nothing more than fund raising machines that line the pockets of their wealthy top executives. They masquerade as organizations that care about animals or the environment but in reality they have very little need for facts, truth or the subject they claim to care about. That doesn't stop them from lobbying to pass legislation or use false accusations to change public opinion against family farmers and ranchers.
Then there is always the weather and markets that we cannot control but have a lot to say about how profitable we are. The fall out from the financial meltdown has reached agriculture and made it tougher for us to secure the funding we need. So why do we even bother if the game is seemingly stacked against us?
We farm and ranch because it is in our blood, because it is who we are. We feel the connection to our animals and our land that the bureaucrats and activists could never fathom. Farmers and ranchers toil in a relatively low paying occupation because we are proud producers of the food and fiber we all need. We are eternal optimists who know that 2011 will bring plenty of rain, good markets and a sudden epiphany of understanding to those who oppose us. So I will close with a hope that 2011 will bring you happiness and peace.