Incoming NCBA President Scott George shares lessons learned from his late father with Editor Joe Roybal. His most important takeaway? The importance of agriculture to our country's security.
Like most of us, incoming National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Scott George credits his parents for his worth ethic. And, like most of us, his parents’ best lessons came by the example they set.
“I watched them all my life and I worked right beside them growing up,” says the Cody, WY, dairyman and commercial beef producer of his mother Evaleen and his late father Arley. “There was no quit in them.”
George’s parents were homesteaders. The newlyweds settled in the Big Horn Basin immediately following World War II, when the U.S. government opened land in the Cody/Powell area of northern Wyoming to agricultural development. The couple cleared the sagebrush off the land by cutting, buck-raking and burning it. Life was hard.
“When they arrived, they had $17 between them; my mom likes to say they didn’t have the money they needed to leave,” George says.
His parents were originally from Utah. His dad was a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) worker, one of the New Deal programs designed to get a destitute America back to work.
“He met my mother in southern Utah while he was doing CCC work before the war. He joined the military a month before Pearl Harbor, thinking he was going in for a year, but ended up in the service until 1945. In those days, you were in until the job was done.”
The couple reunited after the war. George’s dad was among those intrepid souls who waded through the surf and hellfire of Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. He also fought in the bitter cold of the Ardennes forests in the Battle of the Bulge. But his most unforgettable war experience was stumbling upon a concentration camp in Germany, George says.
“He said it scared him to death – the human suffering and the atrocities. He went back to his commanding officer and escorted him back to the site. He says it brought home the realization of what kind of evil they were fighting in that war.”
Another indelible memory was the widespread civilian hunger in Europe.
“He talked of that a lot, and I’ve kept it with me all my life – the importance of agriculture to a nation’s security. My dad said that agriculture was considered a vital industry in this country during the war. I think he’d be appalled today that we seem to have so many leaders in this country who fail to recognize how important food production is to the security of our nation.”
Is there any better example than the inactivity by Congress in formulating and passing a new farm bill? That alone should motivate anyone in agriculture to advocate loudly for their profession.
“Our industry is so impacted today in so many ways and there’s a limited amount of influence we can have. I don’t care if you’re a cattle feeder, cow-calf, dairy or veal producer, we need to band together to help ourselves,” George says.