Your Reading List

It Takes Time To Grow An Oak

There seems to be an attitude that bigger is better in just about everything, and then there is also the notion that things happen overnight.

Combine these two attitudes/ thoughts and that is the answer many have for getting this industry out of our predicament.

The mess we got into did not happen overnight — it happened over time as we allowed ourselves to focus on production and allowed someone else to market and sell our products.

Just like the frog in boiling water. The heat has been slowly rising and we have been oblivious, living in the now and not thinking of the future.

Now we have a primary cow-calf sector that still thinks it can make a living selling calves, a retail sector taking well over half the pie, a packing industry dominated by two big guys, and tainted leadership concerned more about their own vested interests than saying what needs to be said.

Winston Churchill said look to our past to see our future.

Many think that small branded-beef programs will never be competitive and that they are not growing quickly enough. They are right if they use the same old production-paralyzed thought process. However, I like to tie my analogy to the oak tree.

An oak, as we all know is a strong, immense tree when it is mature, that easily dominates its surroundings. What we often forget when we look at this tree is it all started with a small acorn. That acorn starts to grow when it finds the right microsite and receives enough moisture and sunlight.

Eventually it grows into a sapling, stretching tall and growing girth.

Changing our industry will take time and it will take nurturing the saplings that have sprouted. Leadership and government needs to enlarge the microsite; ensuring the needed moisture, nutrients and sunlight for the saplings.

We all want to win the game with a home run, but swinging the pendulum the other way will be about making base hits and a game plan with steadfast perseverance.

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

About the author

Christoph Weder's recent articles



Stories from our other publications