Henry Ford once said, “The man who is too set to change is dead already. The funeral is a mere detail.” I had to read that quote two or three times before I fully understood how powerful it is – and how appropriate it is to the current beef industry. You may have to do the same thing.
I want you to think back to the drastic changes that were taking place when Henry Ford made this bold statement. The horse and buggy were being replaced by automobiles. Draft horses were being replaced by tractors. For many people, these changes were beyond comprehension. If you and I lived during that time period, there is a very good chance we would have been extremely reluctant to accept those changes.
People hate change! Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the cow-calf sector of the beef industry. It often takes two or three decades for most cow-calf producers to make simple changes – even though they know the change will be for their own good. Some changes are not possible until one generation gives way to the next. Many families advance one funeral at a time. If you don’t think this is true, you are living in la-la land.
Today’s beef industry is at a major turning point. What has worked so well for the last 20 years will not work for the next 20 years. Although cattle prices have been holding their own, I think we are still headed for the bottom of a cattle cycle. Many of today’s cow-calf producers have never experienced a bottom in a cattle cycle. How much lower can calf prices go before you start feeling the pain?
Cow-calf producers who think they can continue to do things the way they have always done them need to WAKE UP and smell the coffee. As Henry Ford said, “Those who are too set to change are already dead. The funeral is a mere detail.” Are you already dead? I hope not. It’s not too late to make the necessary changes in your program and genetics – but time is of the essence.