The Environment: Why do I care?

Blessings come with a responsibility to care and nourish.  I believe that it is truly a blessing to live in Central Nebraska and be a cattle farmer.  When I walk outdoors and see the beauty of the countryside around me, I am constantly reminded of my responsibility to care.

The Natural Beauty of Nebraska

Natural Resources, many times, seem more than plentiful in our area.  The soil is fertile, the Ogallala Aquifer runs deep and true under our land, and the number of people is limited.  On “Game Day” at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln (the home of the Nebraska Cornhuskers) the football stadium is the third largest city in Nebraska with about 80,000 loyal fans.  Relative to the number of people that live in Nebraska, the number of natural resources is abundant.  However, our region is dedicated to raising food that will feed people and animals that far outreach our state borders.

Sustainability is a current “buzz word”, and a very important concept for insuring the future of our country and our world.  The dictionary defines sustainable as “to prolong and keep up”.  I define it as caring for our land and natural resources so that they will continue to thrive not only in my lifetime, but also when my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren tend to it.

Taking a moment to enjoy a beautiful day at the pasture...

Matt and I work hard, every day, to insure that our farm is sustainable.  The various components of our farm must make an equal and balanced cycle.  This includes our crop land, our pasture ground, our cattle farm, and the natural fertilizer that the cattle produce and we use to replenish the nutrients in the soil.  We are able to create a sustainable cycle on our farm, care for the environment, and at the same time supply the world with healthy and safe food.  We do it because we care, and we take the responsibility that comes with the blessing of living and working on a farm very seriously.  We do it because we know that if we take care of the land, then it will take care of us.

How do I know that we are doing it correctly?  Both the state and federal governments audit my farm to insure that I am, and I keep extensive records of

The Next Generation of Farmers and Stewards...

what I do every day to protect the land that I tend to.

Stay tuned for the next post when I talk more specifically about what I do to protect and care for the environment on my farm…

7 Comments

Filed under CAFO, Environmental Stewardship, General

7 responses to “The Environment: Why do I care?

  1. “Were we directed from Washington when to sow and when to reap, we should soon want bread.” — Thomas Jefferson

    “How do I know that we are doing it correctly? Both the state and federal governments audit my farm to insure that I am…”

    If this is the only way for us to know we are doing something correctly, we’re in big trouble!

    Firstly, who decides on what’s correct? Different management practices are used on different farms in different places, and there is no such thing as “best practice.”

    Secondly, the only way any government knows anything in today’s world is because people on the ground DOING have told and shown them.

    We should all be proud of the fact that we take care of our private property in the best possible way because we have every incentive to do so. Those few rogue operators that do not take care of their land will suffer (in the absence of government intervention) the consequences through decreased productivity and, eventually, decreased value. Then others will be offered the opportunity to manage that land, and he who pays the most wins the chance to implement his choice of land management.

    Those of us involved in agriculture must ensure that we honour the sanctity of secure property tenure which is a cornerstone to a productive and prosperous society. For it is this — not government oversight — which has allowed us to increase per capita food production while caring for our land in continually better ways.

    Thanks for the post, Anne! It truly is important for us to communicate with consumers, and your blog is set up beautifully.

    Cheers,
    Janet

  2. Alicia Andersen

    Hello Anne,
    I am a teacher at Cardinal Newman High School in West Palm Beach. I teach AP Envrionmental Science, a new course offered this year at Newman. I enjoyed reading your website and your blogs and makes it more interesting knowing you are the daughter of our wonderful English teacher, Sally Gibson. I am requiring that the APES students of 2011-2012
    for a summer reading requirement to read your site and add comments to your blog or just read your posts. They also have other required reading such as, Silent Spring by Rachael Carson and The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. We have a few chapters in our text about food, food production, pesticides, soil and water management which is directly related to your business. I would like the students to see the differnce between family-owned sustainable farming to our current factory farming to feed the world.
    So, please be aware or advised that students “should” be logging on and reading and hopefully commenting this summer.
    One post comment: I have to agree with Janet Thompson about the oversight of different tiers of government as an appropriate indicator of the quality of your farming practices. I believe that your willingness to practice the highest standards within your farming business supersedes government regulations. I like to define “sustainability” the new buzz word, as “what you take…you give back”
    Thanks Anne,
    Alicia Andersen

    • Nancy Labbe

      Anne,
      From one fellow Nebraskan to another, thank you so much for the great blog. It is important for everyone to know that cattle feeding operations such as yours are the norm in our industry. The idea that our industry is made up of “factory farms” is false and alarming. In fact, as you know, over 95% of the farms in the US are owned and operated by families, not factories! This includes ranches, farms, cattle feeding operations, finishing operations, backgrounding operations, etc. Thank you for telling your story and showing how our true environmental stewards operate.

  3. Carol Ingram

    Anne,
    I appreciate that you refer to the picture of your girls as future farmers and “stewards”. What is now termed sustainable agriculture is equivalent to stewardship. It’s the balance between using up and throwing away everything we use and animal and plant rights activists who would have us put animals on a pedestal rather that using them for our needs according to the plan that God established in Genesis.

  4. Alicia,
    I am a 47 year old who worked extensively on these so called factory farms in the late 80’s. Although I am bit at a loss to figure out exactly what qualifies as a “factory” farm, and what make it “unsustainable”; I did work at one which I imagine would meet your definition. I worked at a cattle feedlot that held 80,000 head of cattle. The company I worked for owned several large feedlots, and kept over 500,000 head of cattle on feed at any given time. As it turns out, this company was privately owned by a family. They might say it was a “family farm”. I doubt most people would.

    I look back at the experience now as a fantastic and formative period of my life. I worked around a bunch of dedicated people that worked long hours and were committed to constant improvement. How does constant improvement fit in to the concept of “sustainable”? I am not quite sure.

    We prided ourselves in our ability to do everything we could to keep our livestock “happy”. We did this because it was in our interest to do so. In many ways, the knowledge we obtained and used in relation to biology, nutrition, and animal health were more advanced and arguably more successful than that being used in the human population.

    We learned the importance of work ethic, diligence, attention to detail and responsibility. In particular, we learned not to make rash decisions based on feelings or emotion, but based on facts ,objective science, and data.

    What we accomplished on these “factory farms” made it possible for more and more people to afford quality food, and more people to excel at other endeavors which benefited society equally including but not limited to computer programming, medical science, home construction, and manufacturing of stainless steel stoves and ovens with which to prepare a gourmet meal with that quality food.

    It was easily the most difficult and least financially rewarding period of my life. I wonder if consumers think it should be necessary for me to “give something back” after being involved in this. It was an experience that I found very rewarding because despite what many are taught today, I know deep down that we did our jobs very well and that it was a great benefit to society.

  5. Nice Blog with Excellent information

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