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Overcoming Today’s Challenges As An American Cattle Rancher

“You need people who have their own views, whose views you respect, whom you can have a productive disagreement with, and work out ideas which you might not have come up with, or who improve on ideas you had.” – Lee Hsien Loong

The United States beef industry is a leader in today’s world and that’s no accident. The industry is filled with proactive individuals spanning all the way from researchers to ranchers. It’s nothing short of exciting to be an American rancher today. Amanda Radke is an example of a rancher, industry leader and innovator in the beef industry. Her experiences as a rancher and speaker allow her to see not only the challenges ranchers face today but also how they overcome them to create successful businesses that will be passed down for generations.

The main challenge Radke is concerned about for the American Rancher is private property rights. From her viewpoint, this is showing up in various forms such as EID mandates, carbon pipelines, wind turbines and actions affiliated with The Green New Deal. “I think if you can position yourself in the market right now, and be poised for what's ahead, there are good times to be had in this beef cattle business. But at our core, if we lose our ability to own and manage our land and our livestock in the free market with mandates and the heavy hand of government pressing down upon us, it's going to be an uphill battle,” said Radke. Her concerns stem from her past experiences seeing ranchers in other countries impacted by government mandates and seeing how other protein industries have been impacted by what look like small compromises on the surface  but pose greater challenges down the road.

Despite the magnitude of these challenges. Radke still possesses immense optimism for the American rancher, especially the rising generation. Amanda said, “Everywhere I go, I'm meeting first-generation farmers and ranchers who are making a go of it. And they're not following the preconceived traditions and notions that we've known for generations. They know they may never be able to own 1000s of acres. So they focus on making every inch of ground and every animal as profitable as possible.” Young cattlemen and women are expressing the innovative spirit of the American rancher in new ways by not only selling beef but also beef byproducts like tallow-based skin care. It’s not uncommon to see agritourism opportunities on ranches to provide another source of revenue too. “Having a great network of mentors and being willing to try things that haven't been done before will serve savvy entrepreneurs and cattle producers well in the years to come,” said Radke. It all comes down to being proactive when you are working in and on the business. 

What does being proactive as a rancher look like to maintain this bright future? It’s more than proper management practices. Radke said, “I think being proactive means taking ownership of the results when so often we're focused on the day-to-day operations.” This can look like showing up at local, state and national meetings to share your story in front of leaders and policymakers before someone else tells your story for you. It’s standing up for what you believe and choosing to be a part of the conversation.

Regardless of if you agree or disagree with Radke’s concerns or what causes these challenges, she reminds cattle producers it is important to work together for a common purpose. “I think all associations, every cattle organization and every beef producer have to look at the reality that we are losing 1300 cow-calf producers each year in this country. Our nation's cow herd is at an all-time low. And we're seeing land being gobbled up by the millions. What are we doing to protect the individual farming and ranching family? What are we doing to keep producers on the land and to keep beef on the dinner table. What we shouldn't be doing is fighting amongst ourselves,” said Radke. Despite our differences, we all need to ensure the consumer has access to the high-quality protein source that starts with us.

As you think about the unique position the American rancher is in today, remember you were born for such a time as this and that there is immense purpose in the work you do. Radke summed it up best when she said, “But for me, I've put all my chips on the American cattle rancher, I believe we have what it takes to overcome some of these adversaries.”

The Casual Cattle Conversations Podcast

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