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You're still here!

Jim Walker for Progressive Cattle Published on 23 July 2021

Congratulations, you're still here!

Isn't that a little like how we all feel right now? We have hung on – maybe just by our fingertips – but we are still here.

Our attitude may very well be like Steve McQueen's in the epic movie Papillon (the original) with his defiant, raspy cry of "Hey you bastards, I'm still here," while floating helplessly on a small sack of coconuts in the middle of the ocean. That is perseverance. The "never give in" approach is admired and applauded – it is what saved the British in World War II (well, their attitude and a whole lot of American muscle), and it is all us ranchers and farmers know.

So, there is light at the end of this dark economic tunnel that COVID-19 forced upon us. We are still in business, but it seems as though everything has changed. Some things we may have thought important before now pale in comparison to other things in our lives. Family and friends were always important, but now, even more so. Maybe we also appreciate our customers, our employees and our suppliers a little more. As my teenage daughters, Cameron and Claire, used to sing along with the song from High School Musical, it’s a fact: "We're all in this together."

Also, in case we didn't recognize it before, we now see how intertwined our existences truly are. We should each take a strong interest in making sure everyone is doing well up and down our entire supply chain. Where before, you might have pushed to get the absolute best deal you could get squeezing both ends, maybe now you make sure all parties are making a reasonable profit to ensure their survival, too – you need them. At Land's Feed Warehouse, we have always worked hard to be competitive, which almost always comes down to price. But, we also see our competitive advantage and further "value-add" to our customers (and our suppliers) our exceptional service, our experience, and the deep product and industry knowledge we provide. Our catchphrase states, "Price is what you pay. Value is what you get."

As we each change with our new circumstances and surroundings, take some time to think about how you can improve your operations and your value offerings to your customers, employees and suppliers. How can you work to make sure everyone succeeds and prospers? My grandparents used to bore me (I was just a punk back then) with stories of how everyone in the Depression and in World War II were all in the same boat, and everyone worked together and looked out for each other. Maybe it's high time we listened to their wisdom.

As always, my advice is to grow your herd and keep them (and yourself) healthy, for land’s sake!  end mark

Jim Walker is a farmer, rancher and all-around thorn-in-the-side with Land's Feed Warehouse in Grand Saline, Texas, who opines on current events affecting the cattle industry. Email Jim Walker.