This past Friday saw agriculture receive a big boost from someone in the public eye- Miss America Teresa Scanlan. A native of Nebraska, Scanlan used her newly-acquired title to help provide a voice to all those back home in Nebraska, and to all families engaged in agriculture across the country.
On a daily basis, the agriculture industry is bombarded by media images and statements from various groups such as PETA and HSUS that are propelled by celebrity spokespeople who support the groups’ agendas. When Miss America penned her op-ed and filmed her subsequent segment that aired on Fox and Friends, it was an affirmation that there are those out there who are willing to help and give a voice to the true face of agriculture. If you haven’t seen the op-ed or TV segment-click on the following links:
Needless to say, one can start to feel a little lonely when promoting the cattle industry out in Washington, D.C. when there are so many misconceptions held by the public when it comes to agriculture. I’ve begun to lose track of the number of times someone has commented on the pin that Jess and I wear on our suits- the pin is in the shape of a cow and filled in with the American flag. Once people see it, it is almost always an instant conversation starter. I always include my personal background when discussing what USCA is and am always met with surprise when explaining how my family’s ranch is currently in its 5th generation of operation. The general public has been bombarded by images of expansive feedlots with the attached explanation that these places are where our meat comes from. People often take that as point blank information and don’t often realize that the majority of beef produced in the U.S. today starts on a family farm.
This disconnect in understanding where the public perceives their food as coming from and the actual reality is becoming increasingly large as the images and press put out by animal-rights groups is heightened in visibility due to celebrity supporters. It is quite the boost in morale to have someone in the public spotlight, such as Miss America Teresa Scanlan, to come out in support of agriculture and all of the families who work day in and day out to ensure that the nation is provided with food!
In today’s society, it will likely continue to be an upward battle to promote the true story of the cattle industry. With that said, I am truly proud to be working out in Washington, D.C. Through the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association I know that I am representing my family’s operation and am able to advocate and attempt to bridge the gap between the misconceptions held by many on agriculture and instead try to bring a face to the industry and tell its story in a city where the decisions regarding the industry are made, yet the disconnect remains large.
The number of cowboy hats roaming throughout Washington, D.C. has dramatically decreased yet again to a small select few as the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association wrapped up its 2011 Winter Fly- In this past week. February 28, brought a much welcomed sight of home to D.C. as a group of USCA members descended upon Washington, D.C. to participate in the Winter Fly-In.
The members flew in to the nation’s capital on Monday and as soon as their boots touched the ground they were off and running until they departed on Thursday, March 3rd. We had an agenda that ranged from meetings at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to sit-downs with top officials within USDA to a full day spent on the Hill meeting with our members’ elected officials in both the House and Senate.
As if the days weren’t busy enough, we planned 3 nights of activities for the members to truly top off their D.C. experience. We brought a different flavor to the Verizon Center as we were able to attend the Washington Wizards vs. Chicago Bulls game and then the Washington Capitals vs. New York Islanders NHL game the next night. Not to be outdone though, we wrapped up the entire fly-in with a reception that was held at the Hawk ‘N’ Dove, a legendary Hill Bar. Needless to say, the members who participated truly experienced ALL D.C. has to offer! (If anyone has any interest in participating in an upcoming U.S. Cattlemen’s fly-in, please contact us! We’re always looking for enthusiastic members to join us out East!)
I have been asked numerous times in the past weeks why associations hold “fly-ins”. To sum it up, the impact a rancher has walking in to their Senators’ office or to a meeting with a USTR Ambassador is truly on a different level than anything a resident of D.C. can do. While Jess and I both have our personal ranching backgrounds and are still active in the industry, officials appreciate and are genuinely interested in talking with producers fresh off the ranch.
The attention a group of 12 cowboy hats and boots garners in D.C. is amazing. Needless to say, we turned some heads this past week-but always in a good way. I can’t count the number of times fellow passengers on the Metro, servers in a restaurant, D.C. police officers, etc. would see us and tell us how much they love beef. It was exciting to have so many people be so eager to tell us how much they loved a great steak!
If only in this sense, fly-ins are such a pivotal tool in generating exposure for the industry. Not to mention the personal contacts made with offices and officials around D.C. With that, if you’ve never been out to D.C. a fly-in is the perfect way to do it, so come on out! I’ll attach a few pictures below, or you can view the whole fly-in album here: http://usca.shutterfly.com/
Hi all! I’ll be joining Jess on the WSS blog and hopefully I can keep up with the hectic pace of D.C. and provide you all with regular insight into the happenings on the Hill and how my role at Western Skies is progressing.
I’ll start my first blog post with a brief introduction of myself for those I have yet to meet- My name is Kelly Fogarty and I was born and raised in Oakdale, CA, a small town in California’s Central Valley known as the “Cowboy Capital of the World”. I grew up working on my family’s beef cattle ranch, which is now in its 5th generation of operation and run by my parents. After I graduated from UCLA I immediately went to work full-time for my parents on the ranch for a year. During college I interned for a summer on the Hill and always thought of coming back out to D.C. As the year marker came around for my time on the ranch I knew I had to give it a shot…and now here I am!
I moved to D.C. this past June and Christmas was the first time I’d been home. Six months away from my family and the ranch was a bit much! It was amazing to head home to CA and be able to soak up as much time with my family and working with my parents before heading back East.
One thing is for certain-it was not a dry Christmas! California got hit pretty hard with rain as storm after storm seemed to keep rolling through. In between the rainy days we were able to head out and check the cows and calves and praying all along to not let the truck and trailer get stuck out in all the mud! While it’s obviously welcome weather, it was nice when the sun came out and the ground was allowed to soak up all that moisture, it’s definitely the greenest for this time of year that it’s been in awhile! (I’ve posted some photos along with this blog to give everyone a picture of what CA looks like right now!)
The calves were all looking great-is there anything more gratifying then seeing healthy calves this time of year? In our area though, some ground seems to more susceptible to pneumonia than other areas, so at one of the ranches we were roping and doctoring quite a few calves for a while there.
I loved every minute being back out on the ranch, especially getting back on a horse, riding the young mare I helped my dad get “ranch ready” was definitely worth the sore muscles I felt due to my 6-month hiatus from riding!
All in all, it was a wonderful trip back home and re-energized me to come back to D.C. and do all I can to help ranchers like my folks across the country by representing their interests here in D.C. So, when people say that ranchers don’t have a voice out East on the Hill you can know that it’s simply untrue-along with Jess, we’re prime examples of kids who grew up in the industry and have real work experience and knowledge about the cattle industry and are passionate about what we do here everyday!
Be sure to check in regularly to the WSS blog as I’ll be posting on all the current happenings in DC!
On May 26 USCA Vice President Chuck Kiker and I met with USDA officials John Ferrell and Ed Avalos. Chuck and I have spent a lot of time working with livestock industry stakeholders to ensure that the integrity and efficiency of the Beef Checkoff is preserved. The majority contractor is making significant changes that could jeopardize the integrity of the Beef Checkoff. Working with USDA to address this was a key topic for this meeting.
During the week of May 17 my Dad and I hauled my cattle from Hathaway,
Montana to Bridger, Montana. Check out the footage!
I represented the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association at the festival. We shared a booth with my good friends Bill Garrels, Tony Castellano and Mark Wentura. It was the perfect package: a top cattlemen’s association teaming up with a must read magazine (American Cowboy Magazine), and newest and finest line of western jeans (Iron Horse Jeans)!
During this event I also got a chance to meet a hero of mine and top western country music performer, Brenn Hill. To my pleasant surprise and good fortune I spent a considerable amount of time with Brenn as we mapped out plans to create a linkage between his musical performances and the cattlemen’s outreach meetings that I am involved in. More to come on this exciting endeavor. In the meantime-listen to his music and like me you’ll soon find out that good, country western music is alive in well with the songs Brenn produces!
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