By Ron Gibson
There are several phrases that are used in society today that can really make you stop and think. I read an article lately about the idea of changing all of the mascots of public schools that were tied to Native American names. What is this really about? Does this honor the great warriors that were thought of when that school was named? Or make us forget them?
Right by the Utah Farm Bureau state office is Jordan High School, and their nickname is the Beetdiggers. There isn’t a beet field anywhere near that school, but there used to be. I think about that often when I pull in and out of the parking lot. What happened to the beet diggers, the farmers that lived there, and for whom that the school was named for? The thought hit me that in agriculture, we are living in a “cancel culture” of sorts, though maybe in a different kind of way. Future opportunities for agriculture, for our rural communities, for farming and ranching families are being canceled. We’re losing an important segment of the food distribution model.
In the state of Utah, the current way agriculture is practiced in many cases is not sustainable. Before anyone gets the wrong idea, let me explain what I mean by using that loaded term “sustainable”. In 1969, roughly 50 years ago, Utah Farm Bureau leaders realized that farmers in the state needed a way to market their cattle in the central part of the state. They put their heads together and built a beautiful livestock facility in Salina. This wonderful partnership with Producers Livestock has benefited farmers and ranchers for nearly 55 years now, helping them market their product all over the country. Since that time, however, our state has lost a tremendous amount of agricultural infrastructure. All the sugar factories? Gone. Fruit and vegetable packing plants? Gone. Many of our large meatpacking facilities? Gone. Many of our dairy processing facilities? Gone. Wool manufacturing? Gone. This is heartbreaking. Every time we lose a manufacturing facility like this in the state, agriculture is ‘canceled’ because we’re canceling future opportunities for our industry to sustain itself. Processing is needed to take our agricultural products to market, and when processors leave our state, it hurts our farmers and ranchers. We CANNOT let this happen.
My favorite President of the United States is Abraham Lincoln. He had SO much courage, principle, and grit. Lincoln said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” What does that mean to you? To me, it means that if we want a different future than what we see ahead, we must change our path and work towards the future that we believe in. 2020 has been hard for every American. It has been especially hard on agriculture producers, with violent swings in commodity prices. We’ve seen the sad irony of farmers throwing food away because we can’t sell it, and at the same time, many families not having enough food to get by. Our food distribution system is broken. We have got to act now to stop agriculture’s ‘cancel culture’.
Your Utah Farm Bureau elected leaders and staff have worked harder in 2020 than ever before. They are dedicated to the success and future of farmers and ranchers in this country, our state, and your individual farms and ranches. We are working with local ag businesses, local government, and hardworking producers like you to create our future. One that is sustainable. One that cannot, nor will not, be canceled.Click here to see more...