Carson and Austin rely on federal land to graze their sheep and cattle. They agree that the oncoming democratic administration will be more difficult to deal with in terms of federal land use. They believe that the Biden administration will be focused on conservation, which will result in more restrictions.
When it comes to checkoff dollars in both the sheep and cattle industry, Carson and Austin agree that those funds are being used against producers. “They take our checkoff dollars and then they sit back and fight against producers with our own money. The checkoff should be voluntary. What we currently have is no different than taxation without representation,” said Carson.
The Biden administration wants to focus on climate change, which will heavily impact the agriculture industry. If you consider history, the agriculture industry is the most sustainable industry of all time; we’ve been doing things the same for hundreds and years and we continue to increase production with fewer resources, said Austin. Carson stated that it has been proven over and over again that agriculture and livestock actually sequester carbon out of the atmosphere and put it back in the ground, so if they want to have this conversation regarding climate change, then by all means, lets have it.
When it comes to imports, Carson believes the livestock industry is dealing with a double standard. In the US, we’re required to adhere to USDA standards, but when it comes to imports those rules and standards get tossed aside. An example of this is the push to implement RFID tags across the cattle industry by 2023. Austin thinks it is incredibly ironic that the USDA is opposed to MCOOL, however they want every animal in the U.S. to be tagged and identified.
Vertical integration is continuing to spread throughout the agriculture industry and in our quest to create cheap food, we’ve created many vertically integrated farms that have led to conditions that consumers don’t approve of, stated Carson. When it comes down to it, consumers are going to have to choose what they want; do they want vertically integrated farms or do they want farms and ranches that raise their food in natural ways that is good for the environment? There may be a time in the near future when our economy is depressed and the majority of consumers are buying based on price point, but Austin believes there will always be those consumers who desire differentiation and want to purchase food that isn’t produced by a vertically integrated operation.
There has been legislation brought forward to do away with CAFOs in the coming years. Both Austin and Carson don’t understand how legislators can put a cap on how many animals one person can have as we continue to lose more farmers and ranchers, but yet we’re still expected to feed more people. Both believe there is an ugly side to the policies that liberals are trying to bring forward; whether it be to eliminate CAFOs or their climate change agenda.
Austin and Carson emphasized how important it is for those of us in agriculture to tell our story; to start being on offense rather than defense like we have for so many years. The agriculture industry, along with other blue collared workers, need to start putting ourselves where we belong because we make the world go round, stated Carson. Austin closed by saying that we must be wary of who we allow to speak on our behalf as an industry. Often times those of us in agriculture are too trusting, and we need to be sure that those representing us have our best interest at heart.