Agriculture: Standing together, standing strong

I was impressed with Darrell Anderson from the moment I met him. Darrell is the CEO of the National Swine Registry and was basically my ‘big boss’ when I interned with the National Junior Swine Association last summer. Being impressed with him had nothing to do, however, with his title or his position (or the fact that he signed my paychecks!). No, what impressed me the most is that Darrell is an agriculturalist in the truest sense of the word.

The first week I was at NSR, Darrell took the interns out to lunch and, through the course of our conversation, it slowly came out that this man had done a lot. He had judged sheep, beef and swine shows; raised alpacas (or maybe llamas–I forget!); and worked tirelessly to improve animal agriculture.

Now, as a girl who grew up showing mostly hogs and sheep, I couldn’t believe that someone could be so interested in everything. I mean, I really dislike showing/raising beef cattle and I only hang out around dairy cows to judge them. I will be the first to say that you can tell whether a person is a crop or livestock person (and which species they show) by how they dress. Seriously, we’re so different! How could one individual be so fluent in all aspects of the industry?

Ever since that conversation, the diversity of experiences that Darrell has has resonated with me and has made me realize how much all of us in agriculture should strive to be the same way. How often do we refer to each other as “horse people” or “beef people” or “field crop people”? In an industry that is constantly being torn apart by the outside world, all too often we subdivide ourselves even more by creating these cliques. How rarely to which actually stand together as a group, throwing aside our specializations? Too rarely in my opinion.

I don’t think I ever told Darrell how much this small fact about himself impressed me, and I probably should. Even if you don’t have the opportunity to talk to him, however, I think we should all strive to mirror his example. Our industry would be much better–and stronger–if we did.