Current Progressive Cattle digital edition

Technology isn’t just for the stars

Progressive Cattleman Editor David Cooper Published on 24 October 2012

There’s a great story told about Alan Shepard just before his historic Freedom 7 spaceflight in 1961, making him the first American in space with a 15-minute suborbital flight.

After his successful return to Earth, reporters asked Shepard what he was thinking about while sitting in the Redstone rocket and waiting for the final countdown.

“The fact that every part of this ship was built by the low bidder,” he said.

It just goes to show, even when you’re sitting on a $135 million piece of spacecraft, putting too much faith in technology has its risks.

The space race may be over but the wave of technology that captivated those generations is as vital as ever.

Affordable innovations have created more modern convenience than we could ever imagine. From microwave ovens to Doppler radar, Skype to smartphones, we use this stuff probably more than you care to admit. Only when these tools break down do we realize how much we rely on them.

Technology is never perfect. But its efficiency does make our lives easier.

This is especially the case in beef production, where thanks to scientific research and development, your animals are healthier, your product is more affordable and your labor is lighter.

Advancements in genetics, feed, herd health, nutrition, equipment and identification have enabled today’s cattlemen to produce roughly the same amount of beef supplies despite seeing the national herd drop by tens of millions of cattle over three decades.

Without that technology, we would need 10 million more cattle in the U.S. herd, 81 million more tons of feed, 17 million more acres of grazing land and 138 billion more gallons of water, all according to research done for the Sustainable Beef Resource Center.

Not everybody is a fan of new technology in beef production – or technology in all agriculture, for that matter.

Ag industries today face an onslaught of criticism from opponents who target the methods and advancements producers have at their disposal.

Some of those criticisms have sound reason. But the blanket assertion that food production needs to return to the methods used in the ’50s and ’60s is like asking our society to return to the days of technology before Shepard went into space.

Rarely do you hear criticism of technology when it advances human medicine, communications, energy and our school systems.

But use technology with food production and they act like nature’s cycle has been destroyed.

If you were to ask today’s consumers what technology is most critical to them, it wouldn’t be a new iPhone, a faster convertible or a computer program to get their tax return two weeks early.

Those are all fine but today’s consumers would rather have technology that leads to producing safe, healthy and affordable food.

Those are staples to everyday life for families worldwide. Consider yourselves the innovators who are delivering not just what we want but what we need.  end mark


David Cooper
Progressive Cattleman magazine