Protecting the Environment and Caring for Our Animals To Bring You Safe, Great Tasting High-Quality Nebraska Beef..
The above is the mission statement for my cattle feed yard. I drafted it many years ago when I wanted to create a simple, yet powerful commitment for my farm. This statement brings together the three pillars of my personal pledge as a farmer:
- Commitment to Environmental Responsibility
- Commitment to Animal Well-being
- Commitment to Food Safety
Interestingly enough, these are also the three pillars of the Progressive Beef program. I guess that great minds thing alike!
When I began my tenure at the feed yard, I carried with me a deep seeded belief that doing the right thing was a universal philosophy shared by everyone. It took me many years to fully understand why environmental regulation needed to be a component of environmental responsibility. Perhaps I was naive, but I viewed regulation as an unnecessary step to protecting the resources of my farm.
Taking care of our farm seemed as natural to me as breathing. The beauty of the land and our desire for long term sustainability to this day continues to demand that my favorite farmer and I are dedicated care takers.
Our farm is both our livelihood and our home — Our pride and our legacy.
As I quickly approach 40 years of wisdom, I recognize that regulation is a reality. There are times when I am filled with frustration, doing hours of tedious record keeping in order to satisfy government requirements. But, there are also times when regulations likely push me to do a more comprehensive job on my quest for environmental responsibility. Just like anything in life, there are both positives and negatives in every journey that we undertake.
I made a decision several years ago that I needed to be both committed to environmental responsibility on my farm, and also strive to collaboratively work with my state regulatory agency. We share the common goal, caring for Nebraska’s natural resources, and likely can learn from each other because our perspectives are different.
Last week, I hosted a group from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality at the feed yard. This visit was a follow up from a talk that I gave at NDEQ’s annual field inspector retreat last April. It gave me the opportunity to meet Blake Onken, the new Supervisor for the Agriculture Section of the Water Quality Division of the NDEQ, as well as Cay Ewoldt who is a section supervisor for the Field Services office. Accompanying them was my NDEQ field inspector, Jerry Newth, who is in charge of auditing the feed yard on a yearly basis.
Following a tour of the feed yard, we visited for more than an hour about many issues and concerns, and how we can work to improve the collaborative nature of our relationship. I appreciate the feedback that they offered to me and hope that I was able to give them a glimpse into the perspective of a cattle feed yard owner. I am optimistic that we can continue to make positive improvements in our journey toward environmental stewardship.
While each one of us, in our own way, can pursue the common goal — I believe that it is likely that together we can get there more effectively.
I would like to thank Blake, Cay, and Jerry for taking the time to visit with me. Additionally, I would like to challenge each one of us involved in both agriculture and environmental regulation to strive to attain a strong measure of collaboration.
The future of both our country and our earth depends on it…