Continuing my Agriculture Proud series today with a type of agriculture so many forget is actual farming. We’re celebrating the diversity of agriculture, hearing from farmers, ranchers, and consumers on why they are proud to be a part of ag. Why are YOU Agriculture Proud?

A forester is an agriculturalist, whose crop is slightly different than the cattle rancher, row crop farmer or the orchardist. With a 60 to 100 year crop rotation, foresters know that the work they do today, the trees they plant and the timber stand management decisions they make, will not be realized during their lifetime. Truly a commitment to the future.

Like many commodities in agriculture, the by-products made from wood, besides the obvious lumber and building products, are almost countless. Uses, most consumers would never dream about. Cellulose fiber is found in food, plastics, medicines and so many other products Americans use each day.

We plant 5 to 7 million new trees each year and are certified sustainable under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

With 35 years in the industry, I have seen several difficult economic cycles, but never as tough as the current one. Driven largely by U.S. housing starts, the forest products industry has seen starts drop from a high of more than two million a few years ago to less than five hundred thousand recently.

You know the saying: “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Even during challenging times, we continue to improve our sawmills with the latest state-of-the-art technology. It is all about maximizing the yield from each log, recovering the highest grade of lumber possible, and manufacturing a lumber product that any consumer would be proud to purchase. Nothing is wasted at the mill and the chips and bark are burned in a controlled environment to produce our own electricity. Green energy at its finest.

I consider myself one of the lucky ones because of the people I’m fortunate to work with. They are a tough bunch of eternal optimists who are not afraid to jump in with both feet. They are a never-say-never group of some of the hardest working, generous and friendly people on the planet. The vast majority are not in agriculture for the money, it’s all about their passion and watching the fruits of their labor grow. The forest products industry and the agriculture community is full of these people. That’s why, I am Agriculture Proud!

Receiving my President's Ax at the 2012 Sierra Cascade Logging Conference.
A Feller buncher is used to cut the small diameter trees and stack them into small piles called doodles.
A Letro stacker unloads a whole truckload at one time at the sawmill. It also feeds logs to the mill.

Mark Lathrop can be found in Northern California and online at his blog, Twitter, and Facebook