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RANCH MUSINGS: There are ways to build capacity in ranching

If a young person wants to step forward, pair that person with an elder/mentor who knows the ropes
Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)

Looking at some of the agriculture census statistics I gather that in recent years, many ranches have turned an operating profit, that is, incomes have exceeded expenses.

This does not mean there is much of a return on investment-profit after factoring in a return to management (paying managers/owners) and a return for money invested in land, buildings, equipment, and operating costs (inputs).

How can a ranch build its capacity? Continual improvement in effectiveness of field, cattle and people management. Make sure your business is connected or receiving the information put out about funding opportunities, on-line and in-person extension sessions.

I counted no less that 24 links (internet connections) for resources, events and news items applicable to our industry and farms. Many deadlines for applications for financial support programs have passed. However, there will be more.

If a ranch doesn’t have internet capacity then they need to find a neighbour who does and ask them to help by copying or printing some of the notices. Buy them some ink for their printer or provide them with some moose meat or eggs!

I really encourage ranchers including new operators to find out when the local Farmers Institutes or livestock associations are meeting. Or contact your regional agrologist to be connected.

Some say, the world is run by those that show up. I say better still: show up and elect local leaders that can and will put effort into promoting and providing for neighbouring farmers.

If a young person wants to step forward, pair that person with an elder/mentor who knows the ropes and the community. That will build capacity.

Recently a grandson (six years old) put his hand up very tentatively but excitedly because there was a call for nominations for the president of the local 4H group. He quickly brought the hand down because this was his first meeting and he thought better of it. But, isn’t that the spirit we want in young people: the spirit to lead and help?

Post COVID epidemic, our farmers seem to be busier than ever rebuilding their businesses or just surviving a drought year. Record cattle prices make it easy to reduce the herd. Early indication is that the U.S. is beginning to retain heifers (young females) for the first time in a few years. These will become the new mother cows.

Local livestock associations used to get a lot of their information at fall and spring meetings, but the world is rolling faster now and we need to update our information. We can help each other stay informed by in-person meetings and those who can be connected to the internet can easily be informed.

My final comment on this topic this week is that farm organizations need to keep speaking loudly to government and neighbours about our needs in order to survive in a rapidly changing world.