In conversations with other young producers, one of my friends reported having 30% of his cows open this year. Another lost the pastureland he usually rents. One couple was outbid in an auction for their dream ranch. The cost of fuel, feed, fertilizer and food continues to escalate, and land prices have skyrocketed to nearly unreachable levels. As I pencil out the economics of being in the cattle business, sometimes it looks like more of a gamble then a well-calculated business plan. But, it’s an addictive game, one that I’m both passionate and enthusiastic about, despite the challenges.
Sure, it would be easier to just quit the cattle business and get a day job. The paycheck and hours would be more consistent. Weekends and evenings would be free. And, I would have a lot more free time to pursue recreational adventures. However, being in the cattle business is a long-standing tradition in my family, and making mistakes, learning as I go and reevaluating my business plan before making big decisions is all a part of it.
In conversations with consumers, many assume we are greedy monsters — counting our moldy money in the evenings. But, we all know it’s not as easy as that. Today, I’m looking to discuss the most challenging parts of the beef business in your eyes. What hard knocks have you taken along the way? How have you brushed yourself off and kept on moving forward? What advice do you have for young people in the business?