I love to travel and experience new places. I also enjoy visiting with ranchers, hearing their stories and learning how the same task (raising cattle) can become drastically different depending upon your location. Then again, I find that many things stay the same.
So, it should come as no surprise that I feel very blessed to have a career that allows me to work with farmers and ranchers across the state, region, country – and even across international boundaries. Normally, I work primarily with ranchers in the northwest region, however, for Memorial Day weekend, I made my first trip to British Columbia to speak with ranchers at the BC Cattlemen’s Association Annual General Meeting.
Penticton is a great little town just about 45 minutes north of the U.S. border. The Okanagan Valley through northern Washington and into Southern BC is filled with orchards, vineyards and several crops I normally wouldn’t see in Montana. Their growing season is quite a bit longer than Montana’s since they are at a significantly lower elevation, but farming still depends heavily on irrigation in the dry climate. The area is known by many mountain bikers in the region as the surrounding hills are filled with some great trails.
I was there on behalf of work to man the trade show booth and meet several Canadian ranchers who may have interest in selling cattle to buyers in the U.S. It can be very eye-opening to learn about how the cattle business works north of the border. While there are a few terms and regulations that differ from what we have in the States, many experiences, practices and challenges are very similar on either side of the political boundary. This was definitely evident in a few podcast interviews I conducted while at the meeting. Those will be coming up later this month.
The BC Cattlemen’s Association also invited me to speak during their educational tour. I have to say, this ranks right up there with one of the best backdrops I’ve ever had the privilege of speaking in front of.
A theme of the meeting was Growing a Ranching Generation, which happened to be the subject of my talk closing the educational tour. We drove up a long hill outside of Penticton and stopped on a rancher’s land where his cattle then went to crown lands for summer grazing. Ranchers in the area are facing challenges of subdivisions moving in next to their land, neighbors who aren’t aware of the requirement to fence cattle out of your property when adjacent to range lands, and confrontations with those new neighbors that make it difficult to move cattle between grazing lands. In some cases, this leads to ranchers giving up access to grazing because of the difficulties involved with new neighbors.
We heard perspectives from several ranchers on these challenges, opportunities to address them and other innovations coming to help ranchers in BC approach the changing times. My role, then, was to wrap up the tour and give a perspective as a young member of the ranching community.
It’s encouraging to know that we’re not alone in facing challenges of property rights, wildlife predation, increasing wildlife populations and burdening government regulations. These experiences occur on ranches, both in the U.S. and Canada. Working together, it helps to give perspective on how others are addressing the changing times and adds by sharing innovative ideas that allow us to adapt.
Stay tuned for the podcast interviews from my trip. I think you’ll appreciate the perspectives and stories shared!
And, don’t forget to follow me on social media over the next few weeks as I visit with more ranchers in Montana, Saskatchewan and Idaho.
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