As your President, I am not granted much time to ponder long, even in our current circumstances. In my life “no idle time” has always been a good thing. Moving forward let’s focus on the good news in our lives rather than dwelling on perceived and known negatives that seem to have engulfed our lives recently. I have decided to focus on the things where I know we can make a difference.
Let’s “Zoom” on (no pun intended here)! Our organization’s staff has embraced new technologies and challenges and moved us forward in many ways. We should applaud them for the quality of the Zoom meetings they have conducted. Thank you Dusty Holley for leading, great job. I would like to reach out to our grassroots county organizations and challenge you, as you plan county board meetings, to utilize this technology and conduct your meetings through Zoom. Reach out to your local extension office or Dusty Holley at the FCA office with any questions regarding how to set them up. FCA staff and I would love to join your meetings if you choose to conduct a meeting in this manner. That way I can reach more of you and better listen to your issues and concerns.
Personally, I have always been slow to embrace technology, but I have been on a steep learning curve and I believe we must seize this opportunity to stay better connected and strengthen our association. Our recent Sweetheart Contest was a prime example of how we can use this technology to our benefit. What a blessing it was to our members to have the opportunity to “attend” the whole contest. My hat’s off to all the following: Outgoing sweetheart Ms. Casey Wingate, who gave a very emotional retirement speech. Super job Casey and thank you for representing our Florida cattle and beef industry alongside President Pearce this last year. Our Sweetheart Committee was: Kim Strickland-Chairman, Lindsey Wiggins-Co-Chair, Kaitlyn Gill-Co-Chair, and Kaydan Strickland-Co-Chair. Thank you Kim to you and your committee’s perseverance and making this happen. All I can say is WOW! Great program. Thank you to all the parents. Y’all should be very proud of these young ladies. They did a super job and any one of them would have made a great FCA Sweetheart. Thank you to the judges: Past President Mr. Ned Waters, Mrs. Vina Jean Banks, and Dr. Andy Bennett. Y’all definitely had your work cut out for you. Finally, the contestants: Brevard County- Sally Kempfer, Clay County- Rachael Wallis, Hardee County- Madi McGee, Highlands County- Katherine Harris, Manatee County- Chloe Bunyak, Pasco County- Bailey McKendree, Polk County- Blair Buchanon, and Sarasota County- Rebecca George. Members, these ladies were unbelievable, and they all know our industry well. Ladies, thank you for your participation. You have great futures ahead of you. Always remember: keep getting up, showing up, participating, and most importantly never give up no matter where your lives lead you. Huge congratulations to our new 2020-2021 sweetheart Ms. Sally Kempfer. We look forward to working with you and seeing what great things you will do for our beef and cattle industry over this coming year. Lastly, thank you to all our staff for your tireless efforts and all you do for our members and this association, and for preparing, setting up, and cooking for this Sweetheart contest. Special thank you to both Karen Handley and Butch Strickland, who also helped to prepare and serve supper. Again, many thanks to you all for your diligent efforts to make events like these happen.
Switching gears from this wonderful event, and back to the Zoom and phone trail. I have addressed the South Florida Water Management Board of Directors, the Suwanee River Water Management Board of Directors, joined the Osceola Cattlemen’s via speaker phone, talked with Sarasota County via Zoom, and met with two representatives from The Nature Conservancy. I’ve been on multiple conference calls. This year is just getting started. As I have stated, we will engage a variety of folks both in my capacity as your President of FCA and as an individual to tell our story and step up in a collaborative manner. Our goal is to find solutions to issues and to continually educate that “OUR Florida Agriculture” is the back-bone of our state and is the most essential part of our society. I know we have to be careful but in any campaign, our goal should be to educate as many people as possible: if we do not meet them at the gate, how are we supposed to open their minds? The approach will be simple as in Mark 6:11 Jesus says, “And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” I do not think it can be said any clearer.
Speaking of engagement, how about the new Burger King commercial? I am not 100% sure how to take the message. But it gives me a great way to move on into this month’s science and education segment from Archbold’ s Buck Island Ranch, Since Burger King brought the subject of methane to the table I thought it would be very timely to share with the FCA membership what we have learned from seven years of research on gas emissions at Buck Island Ranch. This month’s segment is called “Grasses, Gases, and Cows”. Please read the article on page 36, and I hope you enjoy the science behind gases, grasses, and cows. As you read, you will learn methane emissions from cow-calf operations is a much more complex than simply pointing a finger at one contributor. It is so important for us to engage so that we can present the whole story. Remember the truth will set us free.
Finally in closing, I know some may have lost loves ones recently. Just know that our prayers are with you and your families. I would be amiss, if I did not recognize the loss of some of Florida’s Ag Giants this month — Mr. Red Larson, Mr. Ed Walpole, and Ben Hill Griffin III. These men and others we have lost will be truly missed by family, friends, and our agriculture industries. I believe these men would have agreed that we all must follow the words in Philippians 3:13 “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead”.
I pray that you all stay healthy and safe. Remember, always get up, show up, participate, and never give up. Please never hesitate to call, e-mail, or text. Heck, we can Zoom together if you want me to set it up.
“IN GOD We Trust”