Know who we are dealing with

By Wes Ebeling

Growing up as the fifth generation to live and work on the family ranch in Central Texas, 50 miles west of Austin, my family has seen its share of good and bad times in the cow-calf business.

 I’ve seen grass stirrup high, moisture sponge out of the ground and cattle mud fat. On the other hand, there is the extreme of last summer where dust boiled, heat soared to record temps, springs went dry and cattle numbers dropped, along with the fat off their backs, in the drought. Needless to say, we have survived and strive to continue fighting the odds to help feed the world and perhaps grow a sixth generation or more on this land.

 As if Mother Nature were not challenge enough, we must face other obstacles—including working with the consumers of agricultural products who vastly outnumber farmers and ranchers. Some of these consumers are members of organizations, associations, regulatory groups and political ranks that jeopardize the existence of production agriculture.

 I have long been aware of the opposition we face in agriculture from hearing stories told by local ranchers, reading farm journals and newspaper articles, and seeing protests at our state capitol. Yet, it took a recent trip to the nation’s capital to really instill in me what the agricultural industry must endure, persevere and, above all, overcome to stay in existence and continue to bring an abundance of healthy and safe food to society.

 On a recent visit to Washington, D.C. with Texas Farm Bureau’s young farmer and rancher leadership group AgLead, I was able to meet with representatives of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Congressional Agriculture Committee, Child Labor Coalition and Congressmen. While all seemed to be in support of production agriculture, history shows that policies, procedures and beliefs of certain factions are anything but supportive.

 First and foremost, I would like to thank those who support and continue to improve the vital role of production agriculture. As 2 percent of the population that feeds 100 percent of the people, we may be overwhelmingly outnumbered, yet are able to provide food, fiber and timber that keep families fed, clothed and sheltered.

 In meetings with representatives from organizations that pose a threat to agriculture, it did not take long to realize that these people are highly effective communicators who can entertain any type of audience and pull at the heart strings to touch emotions in every living, breathing person. These people can convey a much skewed vision and outlook that farmers and ranchers are performing horrible atrocities to children, animals and our environment. With funding and massive numbers of supporters, they are able to sway the public’s image to side against raising livestock or food crops. The numbers, figures, photos and words spoken were interesting, yet show the so-called “bad apples” that spoil the image for the majority of people making a living in production agriculture.

 As I started my next day back from our nation’s capital working calves with my parents—along with a brother and sister who live on our ranch near San Angelo—I was reminded how blessed I am to be a steward of the land and provide for so many who are not appreciative of my lifestyle.  Let’s continue to take things in stride while being as proactive as possible. When we must stand up and defend our lifestyle, let’s do so honorably without using bogus statistics and photos. Let’s show with pride how we provide food, fiber and shelter using our labor and the resources this good earth gives.

 Remember the next time you cast a vote, make a donation, or volunteer, be sure to know the foundations and intentions of each group. Support one that helps provide the energy, nourishment and shelter of life’s necessities in correlation with production agriculture. Agriculture is the best use of rural America to provide the basis of life allowing for specialized urbanites.

 Editor’s Note: Wes Ebeling is a rancher and member of the Texas Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Advisory Committee.              

2 Responses to “Know who we are dealing with”

  1. Jamie Gipe says:

    Wes – very well spoken! There is so much affecting agricluture beyond the fence row as you so eloquently stated. It is very important for producers to be informed and intentional in sharing the truths about agriculture. Thanks for sharing your insights…

  2. Nancy Wood says:

    With all these organizations and people who are against agriculture (even though they claim to be supportive), I have to wonder, do they like to eat? If they destroy agriculture somewhere down the road to the future, what is their thinking? Are they trying to make it only large corporation farming and ranching? I don’t understand the motivation behind wanting to get rid of all animal agriculture or making it so over regulated that the cost of operating will finally put you out of business. How does someone or some organization wake up one day and decide to get rid of all animal agriculture? And what is worse, how do they get so many people to follow them in this cause?
    It is odd to me and it makes me a little sick (seriously) as to how peculiar and stupid people are. I suppose it is the same principle that allowed Hitler to mesmerize the entire German population into thinking it was alright to kill millions of Jews in place of a more superior race. Agriculture was a wonderful thing when I grew up as a kid on a ranch and it deeply saddens me that agriculture is having to be bombarded on every front now just in order to survive. You have to wonder what in the Sam Hill is wrong with people’s thinking. Obviously they are ignorant to any kind of rural life any more or what it used to be or anything else. It does not give me much faith in human beings when they fall for the slick propaganda of con men. It’s going to be a long road.

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