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5 Jan 2013 - Let the Cowboys Do What They Do Best

As some of you know, Arizona is my ‘second home’ state; I have been coming to the state of Arizona since 1979 and thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to spend time and rub shoulders with cattlemen, ranchers of the West.

This year, during the holiday season, I attended the Arizona National Livestock Show. It is held every year between Christmas and New Years, why then? Schools are on holiday vacation and that means 4-H and FFA members have the opportunity to bring their animals and take them into the show ring with the hope they will be good enough to bring home a championship ribbon to their 4-H Club or FFA Chapter.

Again this year, I enjoyed talking to the 4-H and FFA members who love this part of the country and look forward to making ranching or farming a career, as well as visiting with their parents and grandparents, some third, fourth and fifth generation ranchers whose families have been in this 100-year-old state for most of its statehood.

In addition to sensing their sincere pride in what they do, there is another message that comes through loud and clear. It was stated, rather bluntly by one of the cowboys I visited with at the Arizona National Livestock Show who said “You know, I understand why you folks back East think that those of us out here on the range should keep it looking like it did in the John Wayne movies so that you can come out and enjoy it for a week or two of vacation, but then expect us to make a living at the same time.” He said “It just doesn’t work that way. We work hard to make a living and we care about our animals, and we care about the environment.”

He said “We are spending more time in court these days fighting environmental groups who want to take from us the right to rent and pay money for government land, whether it be Bureau of Land Management or Forest Service, in order to graze our cattle and bring them up to the weight where they eventually go back to the Midwest feed lots and finally end up on your dinner table.” Cowboy after cowboy said “….who cares more about this environment than those of us who make a living from it?”

My friend Andy Groseta, former President of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said, science has proven that cattle and the range co-exist very well and with the approved grazing management practices we carry out, the range is better for wildlife habitat and for cattle. So, my advice is to stop adding new rules and regulations and let the ranchers do what they do best. . . produce a great supply of nutritious food for those of us in this country and around the world, and continue to be great stewards of the land they need to produce that food…let the cowboys do what they do best!

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.