A Few Thoughts by John Nalivka: Ranching into the Future
March 17, 2016
Ranchers have been told repeatedly to use sound science and solid documentation when assessing and planning your grazing programs. Many agricultural economists, including me, have given the same advice for assessing and planning your ranch financial plan. I have always thought and continue to believe this is beneficial advice and will pay dividends.
Along this line, I recently attended and spoke at the Ranch Sustainability Forum hosted by Sheridan College in Sheridan, Wyoming. Wayne Fahsholtz who I have known for many years also has a large part in putting this annual program together. Wayne asked if I would like to speak on the current economics of the industry and what this means to cattlemen. Aside from going back to Sheridan where I was born and raised, it was a great opportunity to speak at a forum attended by ranchers who are definitely looking ahead through the windshield rather than back through the rearview mirror.
This highly successful forum was not necessarily about things to give everyone a warm and fuzzy feeling, but rather about hearing from other ranchers (Scott Sims, rancher from southeastern Wyoming and Jaclyn Wilson from western Nebraska) and experts like Jill Clapperton, a leading soil scientist, Temple Grandin, who we all know as a leader in animal welfare and handling, and Greg Simonds, a leading range scientist tell of their experiences and leading-edge research. The thoughts, experiences, and advice presented were solid and are the tools of moving ranching, grazing, and beef production forward in a rapidly changing world.
There is no going back and listening to these speakers should and probably did certainly demonstrate to the 100 plus attendees the need for solid information, data, documentation, and verification.
I think a quote that I recently saw by Rear Admiral Grace Hopper says a great deal about where the beef industry is today and going forward. She said the most dangerous phrase in the language is "we've always done it that way." While most of us are cynical about the laws and regulations geared toward "saving us from ourselves," I think this mind set in today's world makes it even more imperative to plan and assess your future in ranching from a different perspective. "We've always done it that way" is not necessarily a good argument against those who would like to drastically change or end your livelihood.