The panic created by the coronavirus pandemic seems to be relaxing its grip on most people around the world. It’s time to crawl out from under the bed and get back to living our lives again. It’s time to get back to work and play. It is also a time to reflect back on what we have just experienced – and ask, “What have we learned?”
As I look back over the last three months, I can list several things I have learned and/or confirmed. I would like to discuss one of those lessons today. Because of this event, I have confirmed the importance of being prepared and self-reliant. Put another way, we should never allow ourselves to be dependent on others.
When you think about it, this lesson has many applications. It applies to countries, states, counties, cities, businesses, families and individuals. Each and every one of these entities need to be prepared for the unexpected. Contrary to what you might be thinking, we do not need to know exactly what the next unexpected event will be to be prepared for it.
Countries like America should not be reliant on countries like China for the manufacturing and production of most of its goods and products. That is a recipe for disaster! Likewise, America should never allow itself to be dependent on other countries for oil. America has the ability to be almost totally self-sufficient – and it should be. That does not mean we should stop importing from other countries. It means we will not suffer loss when the time comes that we will no longer be able to import from other countries.
Based on what we heard on the news, most families around the world were totally caught off guard by this pandemic. That’s why it was nearly impossible to find toilet paper and many food items in stores. It’s still hard to find these items in my part of the world. I haven’t talked about this for a several years, but I believe every family should have a minimum of three month’s supply of food, fuel and other necessities. Six months to a year would be even better. I’m still a big fan of freeze-dried food that has a shelf life of 25+ years.
If something happened that prevented you from getting food, fuel and other necessities, how long could you last? What if our electrical grid was knocked out? Think of all the things that require electricity. A freezer full of meat won’t last long without electricity. What if you lost your source of safe drinking water? It could happen. I am a big proponent of drinking bottles with built-in water filters. You can drink dirty, contaminated water from any source after it has been sucked through a filter.
Since most of our subscribers are beef producers, I am going to talk about making the business of beef production more self-sufficient. For the past 50 years, the status quo beef industry has grown increasingly dependent on fossil fuel energy. Unfortunately, I can think of hundreds of catastrophic events that could quickly make fossil fuel energy very difficult or impossible to acquire. What will you do when that happens? You cannot call “time out” and get prepared after a catastrophic event has taken place.
For thousands of years, beef production was totally based on nothing but FREE solar energy. There is absolutely no reason we cannot do the same thing today if we want to – or if we are forced to. However, you must be prepared to do so. You must be producing low-input, grass-efficient cows that fit your environment with basically no hay or other inputs. You must be doing a better job of managing your forage resources than 95 percent of cow-calf producers are doing today – and you must be calving in sync with nature and/or with your forage resources.
Contrary to popular opinion, we do not need high-input industrial agriculture to turn our cattle into great-tasting beef. All we need is sunshine, rain and grass. Grassfed beef has had an amazing annual growth rate of 25% over the last several years. Unbeknownst to most cattlemen, the high-input conventional beef industry has shrunk nearly 20% in the same time period. Can you see where this is going? Consumers are looking for a healthier product that is produced in a more natural and sustainable way.
Well over 90% of the beef bulls being produced and marketed today will sire cattle that work great in the high-input, industrial agriculture system. Their offspring are tall, lean, high-growth, late-maturing animals that can consume a tremendous amount of high-energy feed before they start making fat deposits. Cow-calf producers are beginning to realize this is the exact opposite of the type of animal that works best on the ranch. The true beauty in all of this is the fact that the genetics that work best on the ranch are the exact same genetics that work best for grass finishing.
Rest assured, cattle with low-input, grass-efficient genetics will finish very efficiently and profitably on a feedlot ration. They will require much less feed and time to reach the point that they are ready to be sent to the packer. They also provide an excellent eating experience with steaks that are thicker and juicier than steaks coming from conventional, oversized animals. While thousands of cow-calf producers are going broke trying to produce the tall, late-maturing animals feedlots and packers prefer, you need to concentrate on the long-term success and profitability of your business.
I trust you can see the importance of being prepared and self-sufficient. I hope and pray our nation has learned this valuable lesson. I urge you to take the necessary steps to get your family and business prepared for the unexpected and to be as self-reliant as possible. Please don’t put this off. Nearly all events of a catastrophic nature come without warning. I have a gut feeling the next one will make the COVID-19 pandemic look like a walk in the park