Look around you. Yep, life is good


National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president-elect Gary Voogt (he takes office Jan. 24) made some good, salt-of-the-earth comments at last weekend’s annual meeting of the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association.

The Michigan Angus breeder may have retired as a civil engineer (before he retired, he was president of an engineering firm employing 65 people), but I think he just worked to support his farming habit, because he admitted, “We’re not office-type people.”

He’s been on the NCBA board since 1989, so he comes to the presidency with a solid background.

At Saturday night’s banquet, Voogt commented that he begins his term at a very difficult time: high input prices, low calf prices, environmental pressure, and shrinking export markets. Yet he could still say with conviction: “I’m not worried about a thing.”

That’s because last year’s garden is in the freezer, there’s wood for the stove in his kitchen, he’s got his health and his family is healthy, and the 15th calf of the season was born Saturday morning before he headed to Ohio.

Even though his new responsibilities will take him away from his home and farm for days, weeks, on end, “I’m spending all my time with good people,” Voogt said. “I get a lot of strength by visiting folks like you.”

In other words, Voogt told us without really saying it, life is good.

Look around you and I’ll bet you can find those signs in your life, too.

* * *

Food for thought from former Sen. George McGovern and World Food Program board member Marshall Matz: “We all want a safe, ubiquitous and inexpensive food supply. Even with the recent food price inflation, Americans still spend only 10 percent of their disposable income on food. … There would not be as many cell phones and other conveniences if Americans had to spend 20 percent or more of their disposable income on food.”

But Michael Pollan, journalism professor and author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and his legions believe “overabundant, too cheap food can be as much a problem as too little food.”

So, Mr. Pollan, do you think Americans are willing to give up their cell phones so they can spend more on food? Sadly, I doubt it.

* * *

Anti-war protesters threw shoes at the White House gate on George Bush’s last day in office. Peace group supporters said they were acting in solidarity with the Iraqi reporter who threw his shoes at Bush in Baghdad last December.

What’s the point? Trust me, I’m all about free speech, but some people are just plain ignorant.

* * *

Interesting note: As we go to press, the crowds are standing in the cold for hours to glimpse part of the Obama inauguration from a distance or on large projection screens.

But for all the hoopla, respondents to our online poll last week weren’t sure if the Obama administration would be a good thing for agriculture or not.

As of presstime, 54 percent felt agriculture would fare worse “due to Obama’s economic and environmental policies” compared to 18 percent who felt ag would likely fare better.

And then there were a bunch of voters — 28 percent — who said “it’s anybody’s guess what will happen.”

Thanks to everyone who voted.

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