Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)

ZIRNHELT: We have lived through the best of times…

David Zirnhelt’s column to the Tribune

Someone has to pick up the torch when we throw it. This is happening on our ranch, yet the future remains a challenge.

Flashback 50 years ago when we started out. We thought the world was in tough shape with negative environmental impacts of rapidly increasing industrialization, including in agriculture.

Unjust wars, like Vietnam, were being challenged by people whose young adult children were returning to the U.S. in body bags.

The civil rights movement was gaining steam although Martin Luther King, the pacifist leader of that movement, was assassinated.

What do these big-picture issues such as war, famine, drought, inflation, and injustices in society have to do with agriculture?

It seems that government attention and public preoccupation with these important matters leave the farming minority’s issues on the back burner in the minds of political leadership.

While the government needs to be part of the solution to our challenges, it remains for those of us devoted to a sustainable future for agriculture, to do our best, to embrace appropriate technology which can overcome the twin challenges of increased costs of energy and regulation of fertilizers and pest management.

A clear path to truly regenerative agriculture remains unclear.

This fall I will sign up for mostly online virtual conferences, bringing people who are advocates together to hear the latest research.

I expect more of the same advice that has been given for the past decade.

There is a lot of knowledge out there, but the utilization falls behind because of our cultural practices. New ways or going back to old ways is hard to do.

The best of times I referred to in my opening, were when there was post-Second World War optimism and vast economic growth, which promised that the state could protect civil rights and manage resources so we all could thrive by doing our best and therefore succeed in anything we turned our minds to.

Notions of self-sustainability and fulfillment abounded. However, now we seem to believe we are entitled to more than we work for.

With rights come responsibilities. It is a good question to ask: just what are our individual and collective responsibilities in the face of the challenges?

Affording and finding economic and social justice in an environmentally secure world is elusive.

Agriculture is on the brink of change, yet there are those who believe they can make a positive difference even though the best of times may be passing.

Count me in, but the hope is in the new generation of farmers and ranchers who can master controlling and beneficially utilizing new technologies and cultural practices.

Get the torch into their hands.

AgricultureFarming