Monday I went to see a farmer that was interested in fencing
his cattle out of a stream on his farm.
He operates one of those down-home, “buy your local meats here”
farms. They raise beef cattle, “free
range” turkeys and hogs. They sell all
kinds of meats, from bacon and sausage to whole fresh turkeys to steaks. It’s local.
It’s organic! Although it’s not
USDA certified “organic” it is all natural and organic.
The farmer and I walked out into the front pasture where the
un-named stream flows through the middle of one of his larger fields. His cattle have access to the whole stream,
probably a quarter of a mile of stream. That’s
where they get their water and you have to drive right across the stream to get
to the office where he sells his meats. He
wanted to fence the whole thing out which would create four grazing units. We talked about all the different scenarios
for watering the cows once he fenced them out of the stream.
I asked him the same question I ask everybody that gets into
a stream exclusion project, “What compelled you to fence the cows out of the
stream?” His answer surprised me.
He said, “A lot of my customers ask me why I don’t have my
cattle fenced out of the stream”. He
went on to say that he thought fencing them out would help his marketing and
image as a farmer of “all natural” products.
So here’s the lesson.
It’s okay as a customer to demand environmental stewardship. I guarantee the American Farmer will produce
what the customer wants. After all, we
really do vote with our wallets. So the
next time you buy that local chicken or rib-eye steak be sure you ask the
farmer why he hasn’t fenced his cattle out of the stream.