Our Agrarian Roots Foster Sustainability

Fodder for Thought

Humility and honesty should be the foundation for sustainability of our industry and our society.

Published on: July 26, 2012

“There are two kinds of people in the cattle business… those who are humble and those who are about to be.”

This is a quote from Kit Pharo's most recent newsletter. The Colorado beef producer is proprietor of Pharo Cattle Company.

I’m not exactly sure who coined this statement but I believe it applies more now than ever to our current situation in the cattle business.

Times are tough with the looming drought. Humility is an important lesson many will learn during this time. Beef producers who have already learned this valuable lesson will have a leg up on those who haven’t.

Humility allows one to know when you have reached your breaking point; that point in which things just can’t keep going on the way they always have.

I have always held the principles of humility and honesty in high regard and feel that they should be at the core of both our business and personal philosophies. One needs to be humble, realizing that everything you have worked for, everything you have can be taken away in an instant. One needs to be honest, knowing your own personal and financial limits, as this could mean the difference between the continued sustainability of your farm or ranch.

In today’s society where the concept of “sustainability” is all the rage it seems these two moral values all too often get slipped by the wayside. While the many aspects of a sustainable operation -- social, economic and environmental -- are the topic of much conversation, little is said about strong moral values or doing the right thing.

Our agrarian roots were founded on the principles of humility and honesty. A letter written by Thomas Jefferson on August 23, 1785 to John Jay containing the following quote sums up those ideals well:

Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bands.

Keeping things in perspective, not taking what we have for granted, and holding true to the values that our way of life was founded upon will “in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness” and ultimately to the sustainability of our industry.