By Whit Weems
Open any magazine, turn on the radio or watch television and you will hear about GMOs, organically grown, all natural and other production methods versus conventional agriculture production.
As a beef cattle rancher, I choose to utilize conventional production practices for my herd. Some of those management steps include giving vaccines to the cows and calves to help reduce the risk of illness which is very similar to the vaccines my family and I receive.
Another example is when an animal gets sick, it’s treated with antibiotics under the supervision of a veterinarian, once again very similar to how my family and I may treat an illness in our household. All of these management practices are important to the health of my livestock. There has been numerous research conducted on these practices to ensure the beef is safe for human consumption, and I am confident in the product I produce for my family and many others.
But there is more to this story. Not only am I a beef cattle rancher, I am a county Extension agent with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Through this career, I leave my personal choice in production methods at home and provide unbiased, research-based information to farmers and ranchers and clientele across the county. Some of these farmers and ranchers follow management practices similar to the practices I follow, while others are producing products labeled as all natural, organic or grass fed.
Regardless of the management practices and the products being produced, they all manage and care for their livestock knowing that it will provide a quality product for consumers. I work with researchers and specialists to provide the newest research-based information to these farmers and ranchers to allow them to make decisions on which production methods they want to follow. By following different production practices, it allows consumers to have choices in types of products and various price levels. Not only do I work with farmers and ranchers and their management practices, I work with educating consumers and help them understand the steps taken to produce the different types of products.
We are blessed to live in a free country where we have choices, including the choices to use the production practices that best benefit our families and the choices to purchase the products we see best fit for our families.
As farmers and ranchers, we need to work together and understand that we all have a common goal. That goal is to produce safe food and fiber products for a rapidly growing population, while educating others on how we grow the products we do. Then it’s ultimately up to the consumer to decide whether they pick up the corn finished ribeye or the grass fed steak to take home for their family.
Whit Weems represents District 7 on the Texas Farm Bureau Young Farmer & Rancher Advisory Committee.