2020 is almost a wrap. What a year and what an experience—blessed to live through the mess. Which brings me to say, I hope all had a great Thanksgiving, and to remember the true reason for the upcoming Christmas Season—For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16). An awesome gift for simply believing in Jesus, the one that sacrificed all to save us from sin, and from ourselves.
Let’s look back on 2020. No, let’s not. Let us simply reflect, as in a rearview mirror, and be thankful we made it through to 2021, and beyond. I am not saying, “Forget our past”, rather I am saying, “We should reflect on it, learn from it, and move forward in unity.” Our goal should be to look within, to see what we might need to change about ourselves, before looking outward and blaming others for this or that. I know that is a tough pill to swallow. So, as you reflect on 2020, let us all recognize what we as individuals can do better to #opengatesopenminds for a better 2021.
Up until now I have not traveled much as President, but October was a whirlwind and a privilege and honor to attend county meetings from Levy, Lake, Hendry, and Jackson. I asked members if they had any issues, concerns, or questions for which we at the state level could provide assistance. I also took the opportunity to inform our members what the state organization is doing for them. I am sorry I missed Madison and Marion County meetings but thank you to your state volunteers that had it covered: Second Vice President Pat Durden was in attendance in Madison County, while Secretary Rick Moyer attended Marion County. I am sure our messages were very similar—our state is only as good as your counties. This is how we were founded, a grassroots organization from our county organizations on up.
The biggest issue that resonated at the county meetings I attended was last year’s dues increase. Great question and concern. There is no doubt when the Executive Committee, FCA Membership Committee, and Board of Directors made this decision we recognized this had the potential to be controversial. Heck, it always has been controversial since we haven’t had an increase in 19 years and we were proud of that fact. The decision to increase the dues was not easy. Your leadership debated this issue over many hours and many meetings. Like any debate we worked through we came up with what we felt was the best option and moved forward. We knew this would upset folks. Many say the reason we increased the dues was to cope with issues that are not a concern in their area. However, folks these issues are a concern for all, because when we are talking about property rights and water that affects all of us all over the state. I know not all were in support of the final decision, but the issue facing President Pearce and your leadership was the discussions about a land privilege tax north of Lake Okeechobee. We had a decision to make, and fast, the hiring of a new person that would represent us all concerning our environmental and water issues at various meeting across the entire state. Another person, with the right background was needed to help the FCA Staff that was already walking the halls of power and keeping a pulse on what is going on with property rights and water. This person would be in attendance at all water management district meetings, DEP and FDACS meetings, and many others, representing us and safeguarding our livelihoods in agriculture.
The other two topics that members brought up were animal traceability, which I could write a book about and will not trouble you here with in the season we are headed into. The last is a topic I brought up to the plate for discussion: there seems to be some doubt, in a few camps, on national associations and which associations we should be aligned with on a national level. It is simple folks, your Florida Cattlemen’s Association aligns with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association because their procedures, policies, morals, and values align closely with ours. Yes, there are other options but based on what I listed here, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is the outfit we are aligned with. They are a fact-based solution-oriented organization that choose to work with people versus litigating and suing over half-truths and poor analysis of the various segments of our industry. Onto this month’s special article. As promised, each month we will provide you an article concerning information about our Florida’s ranchlands from Archbold’s Buck Island Ranch. As we all know, as ranchers we are proud stewards of Florida’s open greenspaces. For decades we have known this but have remained humble and quiet. We go about our daily lives taking care of our lands, waters, and wildlife, perhaps not even recognizing the high value of our stewardship and what it may mean too many people around us. Today, one of the things that interests many living around us is our ranchland biodiversity: this is our focus for December. So, please look and read the article on Biodiversity on Florida cattle ranches found on page 42. Thank you Dr. Hilary Swain and Dr. Betsey Boughton of Archbold’s Buck Island Ranch for writing another great article. #opengatesopenminds
In closing, please never hesitate to contact your state office staff, myself or any other state volunteer leader if you have any issues, concerns, or thoughts we are here and are at your services. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all. 2021 brings forth a 500-year celebration of Cattle in Our Great State. So let’s rejoice and be glad and proud of this fact.
“IN GOD We Trust”