Friday, February 5, 2021

American Cowboys Are Not Immune To The Ill-Effects Of Politics

Energy, machinery, feed, and labor costs to ranchers and farmers are skyrocketing with the recent White House cuts to America's oil production. The White House's actions will certainly raise the price of food while putting many Americans out of work. As usual, the hardest hit will be those of us at or below the poverty line who are having it tough already. 

But, there is good news. The good news is that ranchers and farmers will not close their operations because of the extreme cold weather. They will still battle the ice, snow, inability to work in white-outs, and the freezing cold wind, all while still tending their livestock. 

While praying that their machinery works and fences remain standing, they'll also pray that not too many cattle are lost to the frigid elements, starvation, and lack of water because water troughs are freezing. They will also pray that they stay healthy enough to do what needs to be done in a job most Americans can't do. 

While ranchers and farmers are the most unappreciated workers in America today, they do this to ensure America is fed. Do they get thanks? Rarely unless it's from someone like you who is reading this blog. 

What do I mean by that? Well, it goes to your interest in the American cowboy, the American livestock producers, those of you who are smart and understand that ranchers and farmers feed Americans. 

Believe it or not, as horrible as it sounds, there are Americans who have no idea that dairy farmers and dairy cows are where milk comes from. Those same ignorant people have no idea that American livestock producers raise beef, pork, and chicken to keep Americans fed. 

I was just told by someone that she comes here to learn about the American cowboy's life. But she only wants to know about the life of the American cowboy in the Old West. She said there is too much discussion about politics today, and she knows that American cowboys don't care about politics.

While many of us are fed up with politics today, how can anyone say that a hard-working group of Americans doesn't care about politics? Think about that for a moment. 

Why is politics so important, and why should we all be very concerned with it? One definition states, "Politics (from Greek: "affairs of the cities") has to do with the activities of the government, members of law-making organizations, or people who try to influence the way a country is governed."

American cowboys, just like their employers and all of the support elements of livestock production, are not immune to what goes on in politics. It would be great if some of us were, but that's not the case at all. The reason is straightforward: the affairs of our government affect us all. 

How politics affect us is all about how government affects our society. The effects of sudden changes can be catastrophic when government policy changes for the worse. While some changes may be created out of good intentions, as some decisions are, those decisions not thought out and only brought to fruition as the result of political favors to a special interest group can be absolutely disastrous to the rest of us.

How do politics affect the American cowboy? We can start with the basics by using the recent White House cuts to oil production as an example. As I stated earlier, the White House's actions will certainly raise the price of food while putting many Americans out of work. As usual, the hardest hit will be those of us at or below the poverty line who are having it tough already.

So, where does the American cowboy come in? Well, while his role is essential to the operation of getting cattle to your local market, he is one player in the web of what it takes. Believe it or not, there are people who think that cattle producers simply buy cattle, feed them, and then sell them. Of course, if that were true, anyone in the cattle business would love it if life were that simple.

So, where do we start? Cost. Everything in ranching and farming is based on cost. When oil production on a national level is cut, the operating cost of everything goes up drastically. 

For example, the prices of steer and heifer calves go up because of all of the costs suppliers face. As with the rancher, his cost breakdown is usually in the same range as his supplier. Ranches have permanent employees and seasonal employees. In California, the minimum wage is $12 an hour. In Utah, the minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. I'm not saying that livestock workers are paid either rate. In fact, as a norm, ranchers pay the national average wage for livestock workers, which is $14.00 per hour -- which includes the employer's share of payroll tax (USDA ERS). 

While trying to hold down its cost impact, labor and shipping costs are usually 15 to 16% of a cattle producer's business cost. Marketing costs impact 6%. Operating interest and ownership costs, combined with cash expenses, usually tend to impact an operation by 20%. Reproduction, veterinary and health range anywhere from 10% to 12% of the impact costs. Feed and supplements are the biggest cost involved. While using private pastures, maybe public lands, producers still have to bring in hay, straw, corn, and supplements to feed the animals. Feed and supplements cost amount to around 48%. 

Ideally, to stay in business, a cattle producer tries to hold their total expense to 68 to 70%, which would give them a profit margin of 30 to 32%. So with that, as you can see by looking at all of the costs involved, by the White House creating a situation where total expenses rise far above the 70% mark, a business may face lay-offs, fewer seasonal employee hires, wage reductions, employee hours cut, less of an ability to raise the number of cattle when the cost was lower, and possible default and closure. 

Is it a domino effect? Yes, it is. But worse, it impacts the employees away from the job as well. Let's keep in mind that the American cowboy, the working cowboy, like truck drivers, electricians, plumbers, mechanics, veterinarians, tradesmen and women, store clerks, and everyone else in America, is also a consumer. They and their families feel the pinch, especially when prices go up, hours are cut, and finding another job. 

And contrary to what wealthy politicians say, after years of working in a profession, a profession like others that takes a great deal of education and on-the-job experience to get right, most people don't want to throw that all away to start over again -- be it coal miner, sheet-metal worker, or cowboy.

By the White House stopping oil production, fuel prices and consumer goods' prices, from clothing to food, will certainly increase. By the White House enabling OPEC the opportunity of gouging the American public, our paying power goes down because our paycheck cannot buy as much as it did under a previous administration. 

American cowboys are not uneducated people. They understand what impacts our daily life. When prices go up, they understand when they may face lay-offs, when they too have their hours cut, when they too have to cut essentials, go without medical, dental, or insurances, or worse -- food. And that's why it's silly to think the American cowboy would not be concerned about what our government is doing. 

Hard times are nothing to laugh at. The White House should not purposely put our nation in an Economic Depression because it wants to please its special interest donors. In this case, wealthy Climate Change advocates say "the world will end in nine years." 

The only people who don't worry about hard times are the wealthy. They simply don't feel the pinch like the rest of us do. That is the case today, just as it was the case throughout our history. Sadly for us, politicians sending money overseas instead of the American people are the culprits killing jobs. 

Politicians don't care about Americans because they are both out of touch and don't care. They are the very wealthy who don't care if the American cowboy -- or any other American -- is out of a job. Being wealthy and bowing to their special interests, Washington politicians are disconnected from the problems of the rest of America. Frankly, I think they could care less about what happens to our people. 

As for acting as though they care? If there is one thing that politicians have shown us all, it's this: they are actors, con-men, scam-artists, scammers, who deal in fraud and deceit. They cheat the American people on a daily basis by trying to gain our trust and persuade us to believe something that is not true. All, while their only interest is in getting rich. That's who we are up against.

Tom Correa


  1. Thank you Tom, for articulating what is on the majority of the peoples mind.
    Their, let them eat cake attitude, is in our face. Unfortunately there are too many
    citizens that think as the politicians do. Get mine and the hell with everyone else.
    Keep up the good work and hopefully you inspire some of those people to take a good
    look at themselves.

  2. Thank you tom for your words. I grew up on an Iowa Farm, many years ago. And just like the old saying goes, You can take a boy off of the farm, but not t he farm out of the boy. Am a retired northern California electrician 85 years of age. But still live my life as a farmer, conservationist. Lived my life doing all I can to manage our natural resousces by attempting to teach people (CA. Volunteer Hunter Ed. Instructor) reasons we must manage all Gods nature through hunting, fishing, logging, farming or ranching.
    Joe Becker Paradise,CA.

  3. It all comes down to the basics: food and shelter for survival. In the country you think about basics. It involves the outdoors. Livestock, flocks, crops, gardens, orchards, and preserving; living close to the land- connected! The word "civilization" also means what the word "politics" means: the affairs of the city, the citified, the city-slickers. It has nothing to do with food/shelter, livestock, flocks, crops, gardens, orchards, and preserving, aka connected to the land. There is no land, only cement. That's why living city life is so discombopulated (msp?) and nonsense, and generally unproductive the land-way.

  4. Thanks, Tom for that wonderful little article. It seems that nobody is immune to modern politics. We will vote for who we vote for and have the views that we have for years to come. I just hope that everyone else can respect those views and be much more open about their own thoughts. We may not get along and we may not agree on some things. But there's one thing I know. We can't let tyranny and terrorism win. That just won't happen. God Bless America. And hail to the chief!


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