Time brings change
By Jake Grossnicklaus
Chickasha FFA Reporter
"As a summer's green turns to light shades of autumnal brown on farms of Oklahoma, many a farm youth sees a dream bordered in rose color, with a big rosette in the center carrying the royal purple of a grand championship. Among them is Charles Brown, 16, who lives with his parents near Chickasha. This Future Farmer of America member pins his ribbon's hope on his well finished Hereford calf shown with him here, one of three that he had on feed, shown here this week at the state fair, the calf will make the autumn junior show trek to Kanasa City for the Royal in October, to the International in Chicago in December. Meanwhile Charles can and does dream of that purple ribbon." (This paragraph was published as part of the feature cover story in the Daily Oklahoma on Sept. 24, 1948.)
I wonder how much changed from Charles Brown's generation to mine. A few days ago I met with him. When we began the interview, we sat down to take a look at Charlie's FFA Scrapbook. I was amazed at how much change there had been since Charlie was a member of Chickasha FFA and former state FFA president from just reading and looking at the pictures. Besides the fact there were no colored pictures, the pages were not just full of one or two articles but as many as they could fit on it. I notice that FFA was and is still Charlie's life and he bleeds blue and gold just as many of us do now.
Charlie started farming right after high school. Later on he worked for the soil conservation service. He was the district manager for seven years. "Being in ag prepared me for the position I received. Teaching me leadership and speaking abilities, I talked to farmers and farming groups about Bob Kerr's idea of building flood prevention lakes and reservoirs." He credits FFA to being the second most important thing in his life. "My parents taught me a lot," he said, which came from being raised on a farm by his parents where he raised Duroc hogs, helped his dad with crops and showing steers in FFA, "but FFA filled a huge gap that taught me what my parents couldn't teach me or they didn't know."
One topic we discussed was how the beef industry had changed since he was in FFA. "Well in 1952 we had 100 million head of cattle now we have less 100 million head. In the 40s and 50s we didn't have large commercial feedlots or big ranching operations. Now we have large feedlots that can hold up to 100,000 head and large ranching operations." This brought me to my next question: Should the FFA Chapters not only in Grady County but nationwide put more emphasis on the beef industry or other industries such as crop, swine, lamb and poultry? Charlie replied, "Beef is the second leading industry of agriculture behind corn nationwide. In Grady County beef is one of the three main incomes of agriculture income, so yes we should put more emphasis on beef."
We began to discuss other agriculture issues about the beef industry, one which caught both our attention was that the beef industry has been collecting criticism over how manure is being bad for our environment. Charlie said, "I think that producers need to let the consumers know what is going on and what type of position we are in. Beef is still an important part of the American way of life. The beef industry is led by the hamburger; everyone wants a good hamburger or steak. Yet, cattle will need to be fed on forage rather than grain."
Charlie is an auctioneer not only of cattle, but also auctions land in surrounding areas, which led to my next question, where did he think land prices would be in the next 10 years. He sat there and thought for a while. Charlie's answer, "I think that the price for land will go up about 2 percent a year. There is getting to be a population that is growing at such a fast rate on less amount of land. With only 2 percent of the world's population that feeds the world this is a great concern for our society especially since the majority of our farmers are in their 50s and 60s, or older and it's been said that there are less young farmers coming in than ever. I don't know what we'll do." From competing in the FFA Creed I knew that this too should be a concern not just for Charlie but for the world.
As you can see since the State Fair of 1948 a lot of things have changed in FFA. Yet, in every part of agriculture there has been change. From the cattle industry to land industry there has been change. Change can be both good and bad we just need to know how to take it and use it. For Charlie change was good. FFA made a huge difference in his life because he found what he wanted to do in life. We all have to realize change happens whether we want it to or not; we just need to realize its effects. Yet, change affects everyone's life not only ours. We need to have a good attitude and make change to help us and others.