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The contrast and the unity

By Holly Martin

Passion cannot be denied, no matter the age.

There was never a better example of the kind of passion the agriculture industry needs than that exhibited at the Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show.

One of the benefits of my job is getting the chance to meet some of those passion-filled folks and visit about their life, their farms and their industry.

A long-time rancher I visited with exemplifies the American cowboy. He rides a horse, wears a hat and chaps and takes gathering his cattle off the range seriously. But what's even more important to him is his passion for the beef industry--and its future.

Just shortly after I had a chance to visit with him, some of that same passion came walking by, but in a 50-years-younger package.

A team of four young people who competed in the youth contests during the convention stopped so I could interview them. Not one of them has graduated high school, but that doesn't mean they don't know what they want to do with their futures. They believe in agriculture and the future of the industry.

And they aren't just hoping to one day be involved--they already are. They raise cattle with their families. They do chores before school. And in their spare time, they are involved in every school activity possible.

The contrast between the two generations struck me. One has a notebook in his pocket that serves as a Rolodex. The other can text any of their 200 closest friends by whipping out a cellphone. One travels to do business in person. The other posts pictures of their just-born pigs on Facebook.

Different, but the message was the same: What agricultural producers do matters to the world. Whether it be working on conservation measures that ensure the viability of a stream, or a new social media campaign that touches consumers in a big way, they are both vital to the long-term future of the beef industry.

The combined passion of these beef industry advocates could inspire anyone. And they weren't alone. The convention brought 6,500 people from all corners of the country to gather together and discuss the issues. Not everyone agreed on everything. And to be truthful, how boring would that be? But there was a common thread of excitement and shared sense of enthusiasm for agriculture that is encouraging. For me, it gives me inspiration for the future of agriculture.

In the coming weeks, the Journal will be running stories from the convention. In the meantime, if you would like to read our coverage while we were in Tampa, visit

Holly Martin can be reached by phone at 1-800-452-7171 ext. 1806, or by email at

Date: 2/18/2013


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