May our New Year’s resolutions be that of trying to resolve our differences as a nation. Farmers and ranchers should be major players in this discussion, and perhaps be the most substantive contributors. In terms of importance, the production of food has to be ranked right up there with our top priorities.

Starvation has to take precedence even over our national security. So why does it seem to get so little attention? The news media seldom reports on hunger and the cost of food. Food is still a bargain; our biggest bang for the buck.

And yet, the risk and sacrifices that livestock producers have to go through are insurmountable. The whole country seems to be propped up with some kind of an entitlement hand-out — except for livestock producers who have to fly solo.

Cattle, in such drought ridden places as Texas, are starving to death or sacrificed for pennies on the dollar. Is there a mailbox where they can go to pick up a subsidy check or some other kind of disaster relief? Unlike other facets of agriculture, livestock producers seem to have no one representing them in Washington D.C., or if they do, they aren’t very effective at being heard.

Back in the late 60s, while working as the livestock procurement manager for the Stark and Wetzel meat packing company in Indianapolis, IN, I was offered a position as a lobbyist for the Kansas state livestock producers. Having never heard of such a position, I declined the opportunity. Since that point in time in my life, I’ve often wondered if this would have been an opportunity to make a difference. I would grab that opportunity now in a heartbeat. To go toe to toe with some of these airhead legislators, would be the ultimate challenge.

How else do you describe the legislative decisions being made at both the state and national level? To mandate millions of CRP acres to be plowed down while millions of cattle producers are facing emergency status, makes about as much sense as leading a horse to water, but not letting him drink. Because there has been enough pressure bestowed on the Conservation Reserve program by people like yourself, they did come around to releasing some reserve acres. But the bureaucracy that you have to cut through to get your hands on either the grazing rights or haying production is like that of trying to cut a thin, fine strand of grass with a dull sickle.

To compound things even further, with the wisdom coming out Washington, sit back and listen to this one. It has been reported that one in seven people in America are on food stamps. This translates into over forty million people that are being subsidized with tax payers’ money. And get this — it’s being touted from Washington as a good thing.

According to some of our elected officials, it is a very effective stimulus plan. The more we spend on this program, the more we stimulate the economy. Isn’t this a little bit like spoiling our kids so that they will love us more?

How is it possible to fill the chambers of congress with such idiotic thinking? Is it any wonder that our country is in such a mess? Let’s all do our part to clean it up by participating in the food stamp program. It’s the least we can do to feel like an American!

This is said in jest, as I do feel bad for those who are dependent upon food stamps or any other social program for mere existence. But there is no logic in trying to spend our way into prosperity.

People are stimulated by taking home a paycheck. Along with the paycheck comes pride, dignity, and self-worth. Instead of all these freebies at the expense of those who really need it, let’s give them a pitch fork and a shovel, and tell them to return at the end of the day when they pick up their pay. This would eliminate all fraud and abuse of the system and get us back on an even playing field within the realm of free enterprise.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for what we can do to resolve the resolutions of the New Year. There is so much to get resolved, that it’s almost scary. To think that everyone in this country is getting help except livestock producers, would suggest that they are the forgotten segment of society. If they are expected to stand on their own two feet, why aren’t others?

Livestock producers have absolutely no voice in agriculture, just more rules and regulations than most any other industry. "Do as I say, but don’t come to me if you need help." That’s the sentiment in Washington.

It’s never too late to shut the barn door after the horse has already gotten out!

You don’t need a title or some elected position to make a difference — speak up, in the most important election year in history!


(insightful stories written by Ken Knight)

Ken E. Knight is the author of the “Knightro Report”, a nationally syndicated livestock-marketing column, which is featured in this publication on a regular basis. Mr. Knight is a graduate of North Dakota State University, with a major BS Degree in Meat and Animal Science and a minor in Communications. In addition to being a professional auctioneer, public speaker and livestock judge, he brings many years of corporate level meat and livestock market management and expertise to the industry for which he now serves as an independent voice of shared knowledge and experience.


For more in-depth information regarding the topics that have been touched upon in this report, Knightro conducts livestock marketing seminars on a regular basis. To schedule a seminar, auction, judging, or speaking engagement, please contact Ken Knight, Knightro, W11911 County Road FF,  River  Falls,  WI 54022,  phone  toll free 1-877-KNIGTRO, phone 715-262-8480,  fax 715-262-8480, e-mail [email protected]t; or contact the Midwest Farm & Livestock Directory at [email protected].