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A Lot in Common

Written by Dennis Sun
      This past week I was asked to give a talk to a group of farmers from Scotland and England traveling through Wyoming. They wanted someone to talk about the issues facing farming and ranching in Wyoming. I eagerly accepted the invitation because some of my family came from Scotland and my great grandfather’s ranch ties to people from England and Scotland. There are numerous ties with Wyoming ranching and farming to both countries. Figuring that I could bluff my way through the statewide ag issues, I wanted to hear what their issues were. I knew better than to talk about history…ours is a blurp compared to theirs.
    After sitting down for dinner and visiting with them, I realized we in Wyoming and across the country who are in the business of producing food and fiber have a lot in common with farmers from England and Scotland.
    Issues with water, endangered species and conservation were high on the list. Loss of productive lands to moneyed people just looking to own a farm or property was high on their concern list.
    They were amazed by Wyoming’s vastness and they had only visited the eastern part. They couldn’t get over the miles of rangelands. Their farms are comparatively much smaller, but more productive per acre. They had a hard time understanding how the government could give away land during homesteading, how our state owns the water and wildlife and how water went with the land but not the minerals. They really didn’t understand the amount of federal land, wild horses and government control in the West. When I mentioned that we didn’t have a Queen, that one had to earn the public right to govern here in America, I got some dirty looks. I would trade the Queen for all of our wild horses and wolves.
    They all liked Western movies and wondered if that was how the West was settled. Their gun laws have always been restrictive and they couldn’t imagine driving around with a rifle in the pickup. I assured them that settling the West was a lot tamer than Hollywood portrays.
    One farmer asked me what I believed to be American agriculture’s biggest challenge. I mentioned animal welfare. The whole group understood. Animal rights are their biggest issue and have been for some time. We talked on how to deal with the subject. They, like us, said there is no magic bullet. This subject really got them stirred up and one could tell they were frustrated on how to deal with it.
    This experience told me we are in for a long, hard time on the animal rights issue. Common sense does not hold water with this subject or those promoting it. As it reads on the PETA website “animal rights is not just a philosophy – it is a social movement that challenges society’s traditional view that all nonhuman animals exist solely for human use.” We need to visit more with our cousins across the water on this issue.
Dennis