Shifting gears, the emphasis of this column has always been on the business, not necessarily the market. That said, it’s always troubling when one runs across comments unfairly biased against the beef industry – they’re potentially destructive to the business. One such example was an article following recent news regarding research documentation of ongoing depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer. The commentary places the blame solely on cattle: “What’s the matter with Kansas? It’s running out of water due to cattle production.”

Such a slant completely overlooks the fact that Kansas’ beef industry represents an important economic driver, not only for the state but for the entire nation. For example, the state accounts for approximately 20% of the nation’s beef production. That’s roughly equivalent to meeting the needs of Walmart, McDonald’s, Safeway, Costco and Sam’s Club combined. Try to imagine what might occur if the American public couldn’t purchase beef at any of these outlets.

Now consider that Kansas’ farmers and ranchers are the primary stewards of the state’s natural resource base. In the absence of cattle, there would be no incentive to responsibly manage the state’s nearly 16 million acres of pastureland and associated water resources. The Ogallala Aquifer is a vital natural resource and should be managed with utmost care. Eliminating the beef industry from the state wouldn’t solve the problem; rather it’d serve as a setback from an overall management perspective.

Such commentary is troubling. However, it also underscores the realities of what’s being said out there, and the significance of going beyond just the market. Tackling these issues from a proactive, comprehensive manner has never been more important. Managing one’s business is no longer strictly an individual matter; it also means being engaged with more collective efforts that represent and serve the broader interests of the industry as a whole. That can be a frustrating, tedious process at times, but remaining informed AND involved is all-important in today’s operating environment.

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