There are many positives I enjoy about winter. There is less going on outside, more hours to catch up on office matters that get pushed aside at other times of the year, and usually I can get more sleep. There are, however, also downsides, and for me it is too much time to think.
They say one negative person can offset 20 positive people, so considering this, I believe the tone I set on our industry’s issues can greatly affect how other people think and act. I have a goal to do as I say and say as I do. It’s why I wanted to bring to light the fact that all the issues of decreased beef industry returns cannot solely be blamed on packer consolidation, but also on the attitudes of the consumers and retailers that ultimately buy and sell our products.
I have received many emails and calls from people who felt the messages in my columns are bang on. To quote some: “a great step forward and the industry needs more people like yourself speaking up,” to which I replied by saying, “what about you?” To questions like this, I often get a response like “I don’t have time,” “there is too much politics at stake;” and/or “I wouldn’t want to offend someone.” That’s about as hypocritical as it gets, and so leads me to one of my biggest beefs — the hypocrisy of humans.
Dictionaries define hypocrisy as “the practice of professing standards, beliefs, etc., contrary to one’s real character or actual behaviour, esp. the pretence of virtue and piety.” In simple, practical terms it means believing (and preaching) one thing and practising another. It is said “to err is human,” but a better one would be “to be hypocritical is genuinely human.” This column may be futile, but what the heck, maybe someone will get inspired.
Getting back to comments from readers about having no time to get involved, here is my answer. Every human being in this world is allocated the same 86,400 seconds per day and we all have choices as to how we use that time. Some choose to work, some choose to read, and others to sleep and play.
As a society we are privileged to have choices, however, by avoiding responsibility and passing that on to others, the choices to read, sleep or play may become limited if you no longer have a business that is viable. Speaking up and acting on shortcomings of the beef industry, like regulatory barriers, packer consolidation and retail concentration, should not be left to industry leaders and loudmouth writers like me. It should be each and everyone’s responsibility. But, that is the hypocrisy of it all — complain about the issue and then do nothing about it.
I was born in Switzerland and raised by parents who came to Canada with little cash, but a work attitude that made me who I am today. Maybe this is why I am wired a little differently and have attitudes that go against the grain. This said, one of my biggest beefs is the Canadian Mr.-Nice-but-boring Attitude. What I mean by this is many know what needs to be said, but because of the fear of offending someone, will not say anything or act upon it. To this I say “hello and wake up!!!!” Your industry/business is getting controlled, contracted, consolidated, constrained and commoditized faster than ever, and you are worried about offending someone? Many of you are 3rd-, 4th-and 5th-generation Canadians. Your ancestors came to this country because in the old country they had no freedom, no opportunities and had no control on what went on around them. Guess what? If you remain complacent you will become the serfs they once were, if you aren’t already.
I have a strong environmental stance about resource management (or better yet, lack of it). I believe in acting today to make changes and not setting goals for 20 and 40 years down the road, like many of our politicians do. In fact, I would hope the attitude about the environment can be accelerated similar to how our society’s attitude towards smoking has evolved. At one time it was acceptable to smoke in an airplane, for example, and now that same act will put you in jail. We need to approach our attitude to industry challenges with perspective towards our great, great, great, grandchildren. We need to consider what will they be left with, and how our choices/decisions will impact their opportunities or lack thereof.
Being hypocritical is genuinely human and to admit it is indeed divine. So admit it and act on it. We all know the issues, so quit waiting until you are safe and dead.
Dr. Christoph E. Weder is a purebred Angus breeder in the Peace region of Alberta and also runs SVR Ranch Consulting. He is also a founding member of Prairie Heritage Beef Producers For additional info check out www.spiritviewranch.com.