I’ve been fortunate enough over the past month or so to attend both the Sandhills Cattle Association convention in Atkinson, and the Nebraska Cattlemen midyear convention in Valentine. Both meetings brought together hundreds of cattle producers from varying aspects of the beef industry, and both conventions covered important topics to the producers.
Nebraska Cattlemen is celebrating 125 years of lineage as an organization. The group’s beginnings are rooted in the Nebraska Stock Growers Association, which was organized officially in 1888, but probably had its birth on a more local level at least a decade earlier. One comment that I heard from several producers during both conventions was that it is difficult to get two self-reliant, independent cattle producers to agree on anything. So, it is absolutely miraculous that an organization of cattle producers like NC would have such a rich, successful heritage.
However, producers are also quite practical. They know that there is safety and strength in numbers. They have recognized over their long and storied history, that banding together for the sake of common business goals does little to reduce their own independence, but it boosts their clout when it comes to influencing policy. This is a crucial fact that producers within Nebraska’s beef industry have taken to heart.
Other producer groups like Independent Cattlmen of Nebraska, may take an opposing view at times over varied issues, however, each of the organizations pulls cattle and ranch people together to tackle challenges that are not easily overcome. There are bound to be varied opinions and unique concepts on what the solutions might be.
In the old days, fencing laws, water rights, property rights, cattle theft and branding, and homesteaders in ranch country were the issues that ranchers faced, debated and discussed at their early meetings. Today, continuing drought, water rights, property rights, brand law, federal and state regulatory policies, beef promotion and marketing are all issues important to the producers. I guess, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Many of the issues are exactly the same as they were more than a century ago, except the new challenges have a modern spin. Yet, the land and the cattle, and taking care of both, are still at the heart of these discussions.
So, here is this week’s discussion question. What is the greatest single challenge facing cattle producers in Nebraska today? Let us know about your thoughts.
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