Rising Above: A Call to Unity in the Beef Industry

By Megan Webb, Ph.D. Contributing Editor

In the rolling hills of Burlington, W.Va., where small family farms form the backbone of our community, a sense of unease lingers in the air. Despite the picturesque landscapes and the deep-rooted traditions of generations returning home to operate these farms for decades, today we face formidable challenges that test the very fabric of our agricultural community.

From the devastating wildfires scorching the Texas plains to the relentless pressures of high inflation costs, government regulations and industry turmoil, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the weight of these burdens. Yet, in the face of adversity, it is imperative that we do not succumb to division and blame. Instead, let us seek help, guidance and counsel from one another as we navigate these turbulent times together.

Tragically, too many of our fellow farmers and ranchers are struggling, and the alarming rise in suicides within our community serves as a stark reminder of the immense pressures we face. But suicide is not the solution. We must reach out to one another, offer support and understanding, and let our fellow farmers know that they are not alone in their struggles.

Recently, at a large cattlemen’s function in West Virginia, I was deeply troubled by a speaker who exploited fear, greed and capitalism to manipulate the audience with inaccurate “facts.” It was a stark reminder of the dangers of divisive rhetoric and the importance of standing firm in our commitment to cooperation and mutual respect. Let us not allow ourselves to be swayed by those who seek to sow discord for personal gain. Instead, let us recognize the value of coming together as a unified voice for agriculture.



One organization that exemplifies this spirit of unity is the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). Through its advocacy efforts and policy work, NCBA represents the interests of cattle producers across the country, ensuring that our voices are heard in the halls of government and beyond. While no organization is without its flaws, let us acknowledge the positive role that NCBA plays in advocating for our industry and working to address the challenges we face.

Similarly, let us recognize the value of the U.S. Beef Checkoff program. This initiative, funded by cattle producers and importers, invests in research, promotion and education efforts aimed at strengthening the beef industry and increasing consumer demand for beef products. Despite its imperfections, the Beef Checkoff program plays a vital role in supporting our industry and ensuring its long-term viability.

As good stewards of the land, let us seek understanding and collaboration, not division and blame among all segments of the industry. After all, don’t we all enjoy the safe, nutritious and delicious product we produce? Whether we’re raising cattle on a family farm in West Virginia or a ranch in Texas, we share a common bond – our love for beef and the pride we take in producing it.

Despite the challenges we face, there are glimmers of hope on the horizon. As we look toward greener pastures this spring, we can take solace in the resilience of our industry and the enduring strength of our community. Despite the turmoil, cattle prices remain high, reflecting the continuing demand for high-quality beef products. This demand, driven by consumers who recognize the value of our product, serves as a testament to the importance of our work as farmers and ranchers.

In closing, let us heed the call for unity and collaboration in the face of adversity. Let us learn from each other, work together and stand united in our commitment to agriculture and valuing our neighbor. Together, we can overcome any obstacle and emerge stronger and more resilient than ever before. As we navigate the challenges ahead, let us keep our eyes fixed on the horizon, knowing that together, we can build a brighter future for generations to come.