The last two months, I have asked for commitment then action. Commitment, by definition is the “State or quality of being dedicated to a cause or activity.” Action is the, “Fact or process of doing something, typically to achieve an aim.” I firmly believe that “WE” all are committed to “OUR” cause and “OUR” cause is to our livelihoods, the love of the land, waters, and wildlife that we have been charged to take care of since the beginning of time. We know our action and commitments are biblical: Genesis 1:26-28 26, then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” The action is tied to commitment for us all. In Genesis 2:15 “ The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” God gave mankind a command and told him that he must tend or keep the garden. As we all know the story I believe after the garden the Earth became our responsibility.
Throughout this month of April, and into the future, I want us to think about our commitments and actions and simply ask ourselves, are they any good without Unity? As I write this message, I think back to 1993, Past President Joe Pearce’s theme was “UNITY.” Ole Okeechobee Joe knew almost three decades ago that our success and future for our industry would be not only through commitment and action but through “UNITY.” For we all know that a division within is worse than any issue we face outside of our industry. Divisions within are where houses and organizations are torn apart. This is why we must unite and draw together and agree to disagree at times. Let’s stick together, for we all want the same goal and that is to protect our lands, waters, wildlife, and our Cowboy lifestyle.
Why am I harping on this again and again? As I always say, look around at the world we live in today. We have a lot of opposing forces hoping we will disappear. We’ve seen an anticipated drop in membership after last year’s much needed dues increase, that drop in membership hasn’t been helped any by the global pandemic, nor it’s effect on our cattle prices. Hades, it might be my poor leadership. In any event in unity lies strength. We called for commitment and action with our elected and appointed leaders. Let’s take that one step further and every one of us members simply ask one friend or one stranger to become a member of the Florida Cattlemen’s Association. They do not need to own a cow, because if they support us and our lifestyle they should be members. As your President I have a few of my own cows (actually the bank owns them), I manage a few other people’s cows, and I also make payments on a few leases. That is really neither here nor there. It’s really about the visions I wrote about in my first message from the seven Past Presidents: that your staff and every volunteer leader’s mission moving forward for the next 500 years is to never stop Telling Our Story! Our roots run deep and when times get tough, we will circle the herd to find a way to preserve a lifestyle style that some think of as easy. We know it is complex and challenging: this is why we continually build leaders for our future that have passion and strive to share our heritage, extending it for generations to come.
We achieve this today by, #OpenGatesOpenMinds and sharing our world with those around us that do not know about this way of life. It can be a scary place outside of our herd, but if we do not engage the other 22.5 million Floridians and millions of visitors they will swallow us up. I believe these folks see us and look at us as archaic. They do not see the education and research that we invest in and the support we give to places like University of Florida and IFAS. We can help to offset this misunderstanding by demonstrating how we use technological advances to make daily decisions regarding better production while balancing our natural resources, for example water recharge and maintaining wildlife habitat. Which leads me to this month’s special article from Archbold’s Buck Island Ranch Agroecology research team. ‘Keeping Up with the Times’ has examples of how technology is already affecting ranching, such as better preparing us for future weather events instead of being reactive. The coming generations embrace technology and the article is a glimpse of the future as technology continuously improves.
This sets the stage for my last two messages that I will have the privilege and honor to share with you in May and June. Remember to pray daily, keep a positive attitude, keep moving forward and never give up! And remember as we are called in Genesis to look after and take care of the lands, water, and animals on earth. We must continue, like it says in Hebrews 13:16, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Therefore, we are not only to look after and take care of, we are to do well and share what we are doing with others.
Please let us all reach out, build our membership, and keep up the good fight.
“IN GOD We Trust”