Responsible Sourcing — It shouldn’t be a marketing ploy…

Thoughtful Thursday

Everyone wants to eat food that has been responsibly raised. Taking care of our Earth and the animals that roam on it is a priority for the vast majority of us.  I believe that our future and the vitality of our families depends on good stewardship.

As a farmer, I spend the majority of my day caring for our animals and our land. I try my best to make responsible decisions which ensure sustainability and judicious use of our resources. Animal welfare, food safety, and environmental stewardship are the core pillars that drive my decision making process.

I believe in wisely developing and using technology to grow food. I think that technology improves the environmental footprint of my farm, the quality of my beef, and also the care that I offer to my animals.


I believe that I grow responsibly raised beef—pasture raised on a ranch, and grain finished in a feed yard.

Because there are a variety of eco-diverse regions where American farmers grow food, I do not believe that there is a “one size fits all” protocol for responsibly sourced food.

I have faith that the vast majority of farmers make responsible decisions while raising food even as I recognize that many different types of farming practices are used to put quality food on the grocery store shelves. There is not one management system that is better than another provided that those systems maintain a commitment to animal welfare, food safety and environmental stewardship.

Their address has changed but the quality of their care has not...

The cattle’s address has changed but the quality of their care has not…

It angers me when corporate food companies give into pressure from special interest groups, make demands regarding farming practices, and then use the term responsible sourcing as a marketing ploy to increase their profit margin.

This type of practice belittles the American Farmer and confuses the American consumer.

Responsibly raised and responsible sourcing covers the vast majority of the food grown in this country — it is not a special niche marketing tool to be manipulated — it is the reality of the United States food production systems.


Is it too much to ask for a little bit of trust so that I can do my job as a farmer responsibly?




Filed under CAFO, Thoughtful Thursday

8 responses to “Responsible Sourcing — It shouldn’t be a marketing ploy…

  1. jack knight

    I have not doubt that you are doing the best job with your production system. I have been working on farms, evaluated and inspected over a thousand farming systems, served on NRCS boards, attended numerous field days, conferences and workshops, and have been immersed in friends, neighbors and relatives involved with farming for all my 60 years. There are farmers who are not doing the best job, with erosion control, with manure management, with placing CAFOs too close to neighbors and schools, overspraying onto neighbors, to name the big ones. These farmers are belligerent , express disdain for neighbors, dismissive, and refuse to apologize or change . Good farmers who apologize for these types do the industry no favors. I applaud all those who do the best job. Ignoring the real problems caused by the aforementioned doesnt advance the cause of promoting farming.

    • Hi Jack,

      I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. I might add that I am not personally known within agriculture to make excuses for those people that do not do things well — In fact, I would say that the opposite is true — I have been relatively outspoken within the beef industry working for positive change and not making excuses for those whose behavior is not what it should be. “Bad actors” should never be defended. That being said, there are so very many farmers that are diligent in their care and use technology wisely as they work for constant improvement.

      I learned many years ago (when I entered the world of farming as a 22 year old urbanite) that it was not productive to “judge something that you do not understand”. Animal Welfare / Environmental Sustainability relative to farming are incredibly complex, and it is virtually impossible to have a comprehensive understanding of it without being a participant in the growing of food animals. It causes me tremendous frustration when NGO’s and special interest groups work with corporations to push animal management mandates on farmers that many times do nothing to improve animal welfare, food quality or environmental sustainability — in fact, many times, they actually detract from it.

      Perhaps the most frustrating part is that then the food corporations use those relationships (with NGO’s) and the PR that results from them to selfishly improve their financial statements all while confusing consumers as to what is the “right way to raise food” — by spreading untruths relative to food animal production.

      I have spent my entire adult life learning about beef cattle production and working to improve animal welfare within my industry. I agree with Katheryn that it is so important to “feed the good wolf”. I believe that farmers deserve more respect and trust than they are currently being given as they work hard to put a diverse selection of food on the grocery store shelves.

      Thanks for adding to the conversation.

  2. Katheryn

    Jack, the points you mentioned are valid – but each person whether they are a farmer or a consumer has a decision to make each and every day. All farmers are not bad and all consumers are not bad, the challenge is cooperation with each other while we live on earth.

    Wisdom is learning and not all people will learn or want to learn new ways. I believe the below poem explains it the best.

    An Old Cherokee or Two Wolves:
    One evening an old Cherokee Indian told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, ‘My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all.One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

    The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.’

    The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: ‘Which wolf wins?’

    The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one you feed.’

    This is such a lovely story: so simple and yet so true. I think each and every one of us has these two wolves running around inside us. The Evil wolf or the Good Wolf is fed daily by the choices we make with our thoughts. What you think about and dwell upon will in a sense appear in your life and influence your behavior.

    We have a choice, feed the Good Wolf and it will show up in our character, habits and behavior positively. Or feed the Evil Wolf and our whole world will turn negative: like poison, this will slowly eat away at our soul.

    The crucial question is “Which are you feeding today”?

  3. Katheryn

    The above poem was suppose to read “An Old Cherokee Tale of Two Wolves”. Sorry…I hit enter without proof reading:(

  4. Ann,
    You always do your best to speak truth of the majority. As in all fields of work, from mine as a therapist, to yours as a farmer, there are good and bad. The harm is when certain groups use one bad incident and generalize it to a whole field of work and therefore cause harm to a whole field and bad knowledge to the public. These groups go too far. I applaud all the work you do.

    • I appreciate it, Kim! Thank you for reading and supporting me 🙂 I agree with your thoughts — there are many days when I wish for more trust amongst Americans — a little bit of trust and compassion would go a long way to improving the mindset and unity of our Nation. The subject of food is so very important, although I think that this trust and compassion expands far beyond the food conversation.

      I hope that all is well. It looked like you had a brace on your arm in a recent picture on your site — did you hurt yourself? I hope not…

      Take care,

      • Hey,
        Ya I have worn a brace for a few months now. I tore the ligament in my left wrist and tried to work though it so I got bad tendonitis in it as a result… now I am in PT and healing. and just in time, hubby has messed up his rotator cuff in his right arm so he is out of commission now for 6 weeks at least. Never ending 😉 Hope you guys are well. My mom is out there in NE this week visiting my grandma. They are having fun.
        Have a good week 🙂

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