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

Back in Time

Historical Perspective

New Director of Instruction, Elementary Education and Learning Services for SD73

Vessy Mochikas will assume responsibilities on Jan. 1

Local Rotary Club busy at work

Rotary hosts Christmas Tree Light-up, donates stationary bikes to students

Snowfall warning continues for parts of B.C.’s Interior

First significant snowfall of the season prompts Environment Canada warning

CSS students receive financial boost

Charles and Jean Whittaker Memorial Bursary helps with post-secondary studies

VIDEO: Boys help rescue Cariboo bear cub

The cub, weighing just 24lbs, has been taken to wildlife sanctuary in Northwest B.C. for the winter

Campbell River mom’s iPhone containing priceless photos stolen from Victoria hospital parkade

The phone contained photos, heartbeat recordings of her late son

Miller nets winner as Canucks edge Sabres 6-5 in OT

Roussel, Leivo tally two apiece for Vancouver

‘Norovirus-like’ outbreak interrupts Bantam hockey showcase in Greater Victoria

Several athletes were sent home, quarantined on the ferry

$578: that’s how much your first distracted driving ticket will cost with recent premium hikes

Over 50 per cent of Canadians admitted to using phone while driving last year, according to study

Kelowna man attempts to steal bait bike from RCMP parking lot

38-year-old Brian Richard Harbison is facing several charges

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Bear raids freezer, gorges on Island family’s Christmas baking

Hungry bruin virtually ignored meat and fish, focused, instead, on the sweets

B.C. pharmaceutical company’s stocks double in value after successful lupus drug trial

More than 40 per cent of patients using voclosporin saw improvements in kidney function

Most Read