Ranch Diaries: Traditional agriculture meets progressive ideals

Can producers come together to find common ground and work toward common goals?

 

Ranch Diaries is an newtowncarshare.info series highlighting the experiences of Laura Jean Schneider, who gives us a peek into daily life during the first two years of Triangle P Cattle Company, a new LLC in southcentral New Mexico. Installments are every other Tuesday.

Since my last Ranch Diary, I’ve participated both in an ag convention, and my first meeting on the board of the Southwest Grassfed Livestock Alliance. When I mention that to people, some seem puzzled. Doesn’t the AgriFuture conference, hosted by the state of New Mexico, and the alliance, a small non-profit with an emphasis on grassfed production, stand in direct opposition to each other’s core values? 

There was a time in my life when I would have agreed. I had put real time into the family garden, saving seed, growing heirloom varieties, and learning about the importance of diversity in my food. I was skeptical of Big Ag topics like genetically modified crops and feedlots, and was awfully judgmental of anything but my view of progressive agriculture: Organic, natural and small-farm-raised was the only way to go, and that everyone else was doing it wrong.

I’ve since relaxed my polarized view, and I think both conventional, commercial ag and small-scale niche market farms and ranches do share common values: quality food production, a superior product, and the desire to serve happy consumers.

I, and many other producers, have found that niche markets are worth pursuing, for reasons other than health or land benefits. Any producer, traditional or nonconventional, is interested in making a premium return on their livestock. Selling grassfed beef, like I’m doing with Big Circle Beef, is just one way to do that. At AgriFuture, I heard about several other interesting ways to make it in the industry. One young producer shared how he maximizes the land base available to him by breeding and raising a modest herd of show cattle, and selling weaned calves for such a high premium that he can support the higher costs associated with operating without economies of scale. Another enterprising young man started his own jerky business, turning cuts of meat that are naturally more sinewy into a high-dollar item. Sam and I did a brief presentation about our path to Triangle P Cattle Company. The room was full of young faces and spirits were high.

I felt that again sitting in the meeting room with my new Southwest Grassfed Livestock Alliance partners. How to get some diversity into grassfed advocacy, someone asked. How can we take advantage of programs tailored to conventional ranchers and farmers, someone else added. There were adjectives tossed around to describe what about grassfed tastes good to a public with shifting needs. There was a unanimous agreement that the alliance needs to be part of bridging the imagined gap between producers, partnering with folks who don’t see eye-to-eye on everything but share the same core values.

This, I thought to myself, is what agriculture is all about. Coming together to problem solve for the future. It may include making concessions to our strong opinions, and being humble enough to realize the division between traditional and progressive agriculture is more imagined than real.      

NewTowncarShare News Classifieds
  • Boise-based Winter Wildlands Alliance is looking for an experienced and highly motivated individual to organize our annual Backcountry Film Festival and Tour and coordinate additional...
  • SUMMARY Leads, administers and manages the land conservation, conservation easement stewardship, and property management activities of the City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department within...
  • Position Summary: Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is seeking a Staff Attorney who is passionate about Western communities and the protection of the natural environment to...
  • Deschutes River Conservancy in Bend, Oregon
  • Position Summary: Western Resource Advocates seeks a passionate Water Policy Analyst with knowledge of western water issues to join our Healthy Rivers Team to strengthen...
  • 9+ acre inholding. Passive solar strawbale off the grid and next to the Continental Divide Trail in ponderosa pine/doug fir forest at 7400.
  • Conservation nonprofit Friends of Cedar Mesa in Bluff, Utah is hiring an Education Center Director to oversee the operation of the Bears Ears Education Center....
  • Friends of the Verde River, Cottonwood, AZ. Apply at https://verderiver.org/employment-opportunities/
  • Verde River Exchange - Friends of the Verde River, Cottonwood, AZ. Apply at https://verderiver.org/employment-opportunities/
  • Teton County Planning & Building is hiring! Our ideal candidate is a team-player, a problem-solver, pays attention to detail, and can clearly communicate technical material...
  • Studio Architects is seeking a full time Architectural drafts-person/project manager with1-3 years of experience to join our firm. At Studio Architects our mission is to...
  • needed for 16,000+ acre conservation property in south central Colorado. Qualified candidate would have experience working on a ranch or wilderness property, general forestry/fire management...
  • Nanny for 18-mnth-old. Yearly salary, vacation, health insurance. Spanish/other foreign-language native spkr prefrrd.
  • Washington Association of Land Trusts seeks an ED to build on WALTs significant success & to lead the association to new levels of achievement. See...
  • Secluded, energy efficient Southwestern home on 40 wooded acres. Broker - Rand Porter - United Country Real Colorado Properties. 970-261-1248, $425K
  • 57 acres in Skull Valley, AZ, 17 miles from Prescott, year-round creek, swimming holes, secluded canyon, hiking/meditation trails, oaks, pines, garden, greenhouse. House, office building,...
  • Historic 1893 Ranch Headquarters. 4 Bdrm, 3.5 Ba, 4000 ft2. Remodeled 2002. Includes 2 studio apts, stables, arena, workshop, 5 RV hookups. Chirachua & Peloncillo...
  • The Vice President of Retail Operations will provide overall leadership and accountability for purchasing, product development, merchandising planning, visual merchandising, retail operational excellence, oversight and...
  • Grand Staircase Escalante Partners seeks an experienced fundraiser with excellent communication and organizational skills.
  • position in Phoenix with the Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy.