Young leaders needed in the ranching industry

A discussion broke out at a local cattlemen’s meeting one evening this week. It had to do with the theme of who will look after our organizations when some of us are gone — retired, incapacitated, for whatever reason. There are songs about this theme regarding the house, the farm.

Opportunities exist for young people to be mentored. 4-H remains a wonderful training ground for new leadership. There are positions on boards of directors of farm organizations.

A lot is at stake if new and young farmers don’t step up and take over especially when few are standing in the way, rather they are welcomed.

It has been said before that the consolidation of ranches leaves fewer owner-operators locally and fewer participants in our organizational efforts on behalf of small and medium-sized farms and ranches.

Need I say that food security is best served by locally responsible and vested small farms. However, size may matter when it comes to the organizations because they represent many individuals, all of whom vote, or can speak to government and consumers.

Membership is dwindling in many local farm organizations. For example, many of the local cattle organizations no longer exist and some consolidation is happening.

There are issues which need addressing: building trust with consumers, holding government to account for impractical regulations, furthering our knowledge about soils and crops so we can farm and ranch cost-effectively, and supporting increasingly isolated families working on the land.

Young farmers have young families and need to keep balance in their work and family lives. Thus, they are challenged to serve a broader community of folks and businesses.

However, I say, there is a close relationship between helping oneself and helping one’s neighbours. After all, we are scarcely competitors with each other locally, provincially, even nationally. Our competitors are other regions of the world, like Brazil and to some extent the U.S.

Sharp pencils (in the manager’s hand) in order to know where we make or lose money is one important characteristic of a successful business. Another important quality is that successful businesses in farming have a plan and a practice for keeping up on developments, like understanding soil health and its relationship to the bottom line.

It is important to say that positions taken to government and to consumers about our ranches’ and farms’ business environment need to be well researched.

Concerns to be addressed include water needs, support for farming strategies and products, and financing.

Isn’t it crazy that an allowable expense in one of the income stabilizing programs, Agristability, does not include soil testing, yet other government arms require it more and more for nutrient management plans?

My conclusion here is that the next generation of farmers and ranchers, more than ever, need to take charge of their future through their organizations.

David Zirnhelt is a rancher and member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. He is also chair of the Advisory Committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at TRU.

Just Posted

Only in Canada, Eh?

Zamboni navigates the roundabout

Shamanic dog training comes to Clearwater

The Shamanic Dog Training Retreat helps owners teach with trust, understanding and freedom

El Nido Fly-in flies again

Forecasts were less than ideal for paragliding, but the weather held out for most of the event

Jim Pattison takeover offer ‘non-binding,’ Canfor cautions investors

B.C. billionaire already big shareholder in forest industry

Back in Time

Historical Perspective

QUIZ: How much do you remember about Woodstock?

Weekend music festival in Bethel, New York, was held 50 years ago

‘It’s just the freedom:’ Paralyzed Broncos player pursuing life on the water

The former Humboldt Broncos goaltender, who started in the net when he was nine, was paralyzed last year

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after B.C. Mountie’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

PHOTOS: Weapons seized at Portland right-wing rally, counterprotests

Not all who gathered Saturday were with right-wing groups or antifa

Discussion on grief and loss between Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper goes viral

The exchange includes emotional question from Cooper, and outlook on grief as a child

Most Read