TIME TO CHANGE by Chip Hines

TIME TO CHANGE As every industry matures it gradually changes in keeping with the times. Sometimes in the right direction. Sometimes not. The American cattle industry is guilty of shifting to a high input, technical model of ranching that ignores the natural world foundation that our industry is built on. This slide started quite gradually, but picked up speed as change was piled upon change. As with any incremental adjustment, it was not until those that walk a little slantwise to the crowd realized we were building an artificial environment that was fast becoming non-sustainable. Where did we go wrong? Partly it is the American system. Bigger, better, faster. Out with the old. In with the new. Mankind ever marching forward, with new ’gee whiz’ technology. Advanced technology is quite successful in the world of iron, electronics, concrete, manufacturing, which are systems manipulating inorganic materials. We have a unique position in that our livelihood depends on working with living matter that does not bend to the will of mans’ desires. Every living thing, whether plant or animal, has its own course, laid down in genetics developed over thousands of years of natural selection. The natural world cannot be bulldozed into doing what we want. Our main effort should be to simplify livestock operations with nature as the guide. The first thing we must do is carefully study nature, especially the symbiosis between plants and animals to bring back the original fertility of our soils. Without a deep understanding of these systems, and how they work, we are stumbling in the dark.

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