Bastrop Cattle Company

  (Bastrop, Texas)
Bastrop Cattle Company
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So where do we go from here?

I've received several comments and emails about my last post.  Thank you!  One comment was about how do we get farmers and ranchers back on the land when real estate is so high in price that no one who wants to farm or ranch can afford to buy in?

Well, that comes down to our whole society making a radical shift!

I saw a funny comment in the paper.  A Frenchmen said "It's (the US) the country where people are the best informed about food and enjoy it the least."

Maybe if we enjoyed our food more, we would value it more and be prepared to pay more so that people who produce it could make a living on the land.

I listened to NPR this morning and there was this segment on a family farmer in Illinois that was selling his herd of cattle because it was just no longer financially feasible to keep them.  He was trying not to cry.

I do hold out some hope.  I think the whole food system is changing -- just like Michael Pollan suggested.  I do think that there is a growing group of people who do enjoy food and are learning how to cook again - and they tend to buy local. 

But here's the problem -- at least as far is beef is concerned -- the price of cattle on the hoof is falling faster than oil!  Summer of 2007, you could sell a steer and manage $1.42/lb.  Now its down to .84/lb.  and my neighbor just came by to tell me she had heard it had dropped to .60/lb.  Of course everyone is selling because of the drought.  People are getting rid of whole herds.

We're hanging on, but all I seem to get is wind and no rain.

So if anyone has some suggestions . . . .


The disconnect between the producer and the consumer!

I posted my concern over the future of my land a few days ago.  Several other farmers and ranchers commented -- some with even more dire situations than mine!

It made me realize that so many of us producers are aware of the value (not $$) of our land, but that we're still not getting that realization out to the other half of the equation -- the consumer.

Yes, there are plenty of people out there who are concerned about their food, what it is raised with and where it comes from -- BUT, and its a big BUT -- many still can't take the leap from the what to the who.

Certainly, I am happy that people are starting to ask those questions about the quality of their food and the integrity of the food system -- we can all give Michael Pollen a thank you for that.  Still, there is a level of abstract that separates the public from where the food comes from -- and the need to keep open land available for agriculture.

Even my environmentalist friends can put on the "caught in the headlights" look when I mention that individuals need help in holding onto their way of life raising cattle or growing produce.  I live next to Austin, and I'm still having the argument that compares apples to oranges -- like this.

How can someone afford to stay on the land when they can sell it for $10,000 (or $20,000) an acre.  It's just worth so much more sold than keeping agriculture on it!

Yes, but you can only sell it once.  You can make a living off of agriculture year after year.

There may be all kinds of arguments one can make (I can grow olives and make $,5000 per acre, ergo why should I sell my means of production for less than I can make over a five year period or my cattle net me a sizeble return on investment and I must have land to raise cattle). 

But lets face it the real problem is that agriculture is the only industry where the land we labor on is in the end considered more valuable to our customers than the product we produce. 

Until we alter that perception on their part, valuable agricultural land will continue to rapidly be turned into roads and subdivisions.


Tthe value of ranch land and attitudes

I had a very unnerving event this past weekend.  It happened at the local farmers market that we sell our beef at every Friday and Saturday. It went  something like this.  Another vendor stepped up to me and said; "Don't you live on such and such a road just outside Bastrop?"


"Wow, I bet that land of your's is really worth a lot of money."

"Yes, but we're not interested in selling.  We ranch and want to keep it that way."

"Well, but when the developers come around and offer you all that money, how are you going to say no?"

"We'll say no if we can avoid being squeezed out by the escalating property taxes and don't have eminent domain used on us (there is also talk of a loop around Bastrop and it could very easily go through our land)"

At that point another vendor piped in, "But a road wouldn't take that much land and just think of how much more the land will be worth at that point!"

At this piont, my stomach is starting to turn.  All I can see is a road going over all my live oaks and my cattle staring at each other separated by a four-lane.  What just happened here?  I just want to stay on my land. 

And I guess my questions are; "Isn't what I do valuable to society?  And doesn't my land have a lot of value just because of what I do?  Would it really be worth more to society with loads of houses and cars on it?

Finally why does everybody think that what I do as a rancher is so expendable?




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