Those of us in the agriculture industry are generally the “glass-half-full” rather than “glass-half-empty” type of people. That is, we tend to see the positive side of a situation, but our optimism is now being tested.

Expenses in our business are gaining ground. In addition to rising fuel costs, our raw materials, such as feed, fertilizer and parts, have all skyrocketed to unbelievable levels. And there appears to be no end in sight.

On the income side, the market price for beef is declining. It looks like the transportation cost of livestock has taken $10/cwt. off our yearling cattle (negative basis to the Midwest). This has removed the eastern buyer from bidding on our western cattle, or at least lowered their bids by $10/cwt. The result is we are now back to selling our cattle regionally.

Meanwhile, retail demand for our product has taken a hit due to the lagging economy and huge competing protein sources (pork and chicken).

What is a glass-half-full type of person to do?

When you read about the most successful people in the world, their common characteristic is they don't consider failure a possibility. That doesn't mean the risks and downsides aren't considered, but merely that they've planned for them, knowing and believing that challenges can be met and overcome. And they know that with change comes opportunity.

Where's your heart?

I love the old saying: “He or she has a lot of heart.” It means that individual has a passion to succeed, with a love of their life and work.

An individual with a lot of heart will do whatever it takes to get the job done. When the going gets tough, individuals with heart get going. It shows in their positive attitude and actions. It's simply a pleasure to work and be around these individuals regardless of their profession, and regardless if the times are good or bad.

What does this philosophy have to do with livestock production and marketing of beef cows? Just like riding a horse without heart, if you have to pedal yourself all the time to get the bovine job done, perhaps you don't have the heart and passion to ride out these down times.

Hold your head up; maintain a good attitude. Concentrate on the things over which you have control; make sound management decisions. Follow the Boy Scout motto, “Be prepared.” It's times like these that good managers shine and poor managers pay the price for their lack of planning.

Most of what we face in life is challenging. How we meet and handle those challenges determines our success or failure. Tough times make us appreciate the good times. Life is too short to spend it as a glass-half-empty type of person.

We live in a different world today than 20-50 years ago. Much of the current state of our industry has to do with factors beyond our control, be they political, environmental, etc.

Historically, agriculture has always had ups and downs. The next high will be even higher, and the next low will be even lower. This we can count on.

Bottom line, those with heart and a strong will to survive, do. All the stress and setbacks can lead us to take our eyes off the ball, lose our focus, make poor management decisions and lose our positive attitude. Remember: The glass is half-full!

Ron Torell is a University of Nevada Extension specialist in Elko. He can be reached at 775-738-1721 or