Upcoming Opportunities and Challenges: Reflections from Don Campbell

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Written by Don Campbell

Greeting friends, I have been reflecting on the future. I want to stress that these ideas are my thoughts. I invite you to pause, reflect and decide for yourself what you see coming and how you might prepare for the future.

I met Allan Savory about 35 years ago. I remember Allan telling me that we would see more floods and droughts as we moved ahead unless we stopped the desertification that was occurring around the world. This desertification would eventually lead to a worldwide food and water shortage. I never doubted Allan but I must admit that I didn’t think that these things would occur in my lifetime.

As I observe the weather patterns in my area, in my country and around the world, I believe we will soon have a worldwide shortage of food and water.

The results of this shortage will be catastrophic. They will be felt around the world. I can’t imagine what the changes will be, however, I think change is coming and we would be wise to prepare so that we may prosper in the new times and that we may be part of the solution, not part of the problem as we move ahead.

I believe Holistic Management can help us move ahead. Holistic Management helps us make decisions that are simultaneously socially, environmentally and financially sound. My favourite way to say this is Holistic Management helps us care for our people, improve our land and make a profit. This has always been important; it will be vital as we move into uncharted waters.

Agriculture is the foundation of civilization. This knowledge has been lost in our society. We need to educate people to this fact.

There have been about 26 past civilizations that failed because their agriculture failed. People need to become aware of these facts. We need to keep agriculture alive and thriving for our benefit and the benefit of society at large.

Opportunities

  1. The price of food will rise.
  2. Food will become a priority. Luxuries will become less important.
  3. We are entering an era when primary agriculture will thrive. This will be long lived, it will likely last 20 plus years.
  4. The price for primary producers will increase. In my lifetime, the highest prices for feeder cattle relative to the cost of production occurred in the 1950’s. As we move ahead feeder cattle prices will rise to exceed the cost of production on a regular basis.
  5. Good management has always paid well. As we move ahead it will pay even better.

Challenges

  1. The weather patterns will be totally unpredictable. Our management skills will be severely tested. I believe Holistic Management gives us the tools to meet these challenges.

Possible Changes

  1. Forage type cattle will rise in popularity.
  2. A low stocking rate may be essential.
  3. A flexible stocking rate may be essential.
  4. It may be advantageous to run a cow / yearling operation as opposed to a cow / calf operation.
  5. Ethanol and biodiesel may disappear.
  6. The feedlot industry may disappear.   
  7. Farming may move to a more regenerative model. This would include more forages, cover crops and cocktail cropping. This will increase the amount of forage for livestock feed.
  8. The value of cattle will be recognized in farming. We will see mixed farms between farms.
  9. Farmers and ranchers will make win-win deals.
  10. The importance of and the ability of grazing animals to sequester carbon will be recognized.
  11. We may be paid for carbon sequestration.

Possible Action Steps

  1. Do whatever is necessary to care for your people, improve your land and make a profit. You are in charge.
  2. Maintain your health and the health of your team.
  3. Hone and increase your grazing and financial planning skills.
  4. Share the benefits Holistic Management has given you with others.
  5. Reach out to other producers. Host a field day. Share your knowledge and experience. People will be looking for a better way.
  6. Reach out to extension agents, university professors, environmentalist, friends and relatives.
  7. Talk to your local MLA and MP.
  8. Be part of the solution not part of the problem.

I feel confident that we are entering uncertain times. We are facing the biggest challenge since the end of the second world war. I believe we are well equipped to rise to the occasion and to prosper.

I believe in you. I wish you a bright future.

I would appreciate any feedback you may have. You may contact me at: doncampbell@sasktel.net

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