Iversen: Keep Ranchers Ranching in SD and beyond
One would think that with all the discussions currently taking place about high consumer beef costs while at the same time declining profitability of the cattle industry, in particular the cow-calf sector, we would see more support from our state government and the local businesses that we support every day with our checkbooks.
When an out of state prospective business expresses an interest in South Dakota, our State officials nearly trip over themselves with photo ops, courting and taking credit. Well, what about the old reliable backbone that keeps South Dakota thriving every day? When will the cow-calf industry in western South Dakota get its deserved attention?
South Dakota ranch families have been operating at or below break-even prices for going on 6 years now. How much longer must we endure before they realize what we do is essential both for South Dakota’s economy and the consuming public?
We have been calling on Congress for legislative action on a federal level in order to regain profitability and restore competition in the marketplace and we need their help! Now is the time to voice your support.
Where are our seed-stock merchandisers, bankers, vet clinics, feed stores, implement dealers, welders, mechanics, parts stores, grain elevators, feed manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, tag manufacturers, pickup manufacturers and atv dealers that depend on us to keep their operations in the black? Do they realize what they stand to lose if the cow-calf industry falters and when we are gone, their businesses will be impacted as well? Or will somebody else just come in and pick up where we left off? I doubt that there are many businesses that will spend the amount of money ranchers spend just to try to earn a living.
Where are our elected officials, South Dakota legislators cattle and farm organizations? Where is our South Dakota Department of Agriculture and the Governors’ Office of Economic Development? Our Governor has to understand the importance of agriculture in South Dakota and the impact the cow-calf sector has on economic viability? I assume she does not want the demise of the independent cow-calf industry during her watch as governor. She could be the crucial link to saving it before it’s too late, if she seizes the opportunity.
She has the attention of the nation. She needs to take advantage of that and stress the importance of beef raised by independent American cattle ranchers as it relates to National Security so that we don’t become reliant on a foreign country or foreign owned meat packing plant to meet consumer demand.
South Dakota ranch families are either stubborn, eternal optimists or stupid. What other business would work 12-16 hours a day, seven days a week, have millions of dollars in investment, overhead and operational costs to hopefully break even! And when we do make a little money, we don’t save it. We leverage it, borrow more and spend it! If that is not economic development I don’t know what is! Where are our local merchants helping us in this battle?
Nobody works as hard or takes as good of care of our natural resources than the man/woman who owns the land. Do we want to just keep squeezing our producers until even the ones who have managed to stay afloat throw in the towel?
You see, ranchers are not the type of people who typically ask for help. They just work hard and when they come to the realization that the profits just aren’t there to continue, they simply bow out gracefully and either sell their land or rent it out. Is this what we want?
If we want our youth to remain in agriculture and populate our rural communities and patron our local businesses we all need to stand together. It’s time to proclaim “Keep Ranchers’ Ranching” week and highlight and bring attention to our plight. We need our national beef consumers to realize our importance to both the economy and in providing the best tasting, environmentally friendly, safest and wholesome protein source available to them.
Please, call your legislators and congressman, farm and cattle organizations and anyone else and express how vital ranchers are to this state and your bottom line.
Iversen Angus Ranch
Mellette County, SD
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