DEER LODGE — Issues facing the livestock industry – including competition from foreign beef -- topped an agriculture journalist’s talk to the annual Rocky Mountain Stockgrowers Association banquet held in Deer Lodge earlier this month.
Keynote speaker Linda Grosskopf, editor of Western Ag Reporter, asked the question:
“When did we quit putting the United States of America first? When did we start allowing our elected representatives to stop putting America first?
“Ranchers are trying to figure out how they are going to make ends meet with this year’s calf prices 45 percent less than last year. Meanwhile, foreign beef from countries like Brazil is arriving by the shipload on American shores to compete for consumer dollars against high quality U.S. beef,’’ she said, speaking before an audience of more than 200 ranchers, many young couples, and others.
Grosskopf blamed a weak Congress that failed to block the trade deal. These same lawmakers dismantled the country of origin (COOL) labeling so U.S. beef is not identified for consumers who will choose the cheaper, more inferior product because they don’t know any better, she said.
“I absolutely cannot get why Canada can have COOL, but we can’t,” Grosskopf said. “I am a protectionist who wants our American ranchers to do well and American consumers to be looked out for. If we start demanding a new and higher level of political performance and representation from our elected representatives, then we can clean up our corner of the country, and maybe the rest will follow.”
On the other hand, ranchers have much to be thankful for, she said. They love their work, and are teaching others to follow in their footsteps. They know where food comes from and who raised it and they maintain an intense sense of community.
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“We can look back down the trail to our great-grandparents and then we can turn around and look up the trail where our great-grandkids are waiting to ‘live the dream’ and they will know how because we showed them how,” Grosskopf said.
Grosskopf grew up on a multi-generational ranch east of Billings that has been in her family since 1931.
She credits the isolation and reliance on oneself, her family and independent-thinking women, especially her mother and maternal grandmother, hard work, horses, good books, and education as major influences in her life.
From the time she was a child, Grosskopf has been surrounded by people who value work – “if not the cure for your problems, then the magic ingredient to keep your mind off your problems,” she said. “To be deprived of the ability to work is one of the cruelest things that life can dish out.”
It would be 25 years after earning degrees in English and secretarial business before she fulfilled her dream of teaching; then in 1994, she accepted the job as junior editor of Pat Goggins’ weekly agricultural newspaper, a job she still loves after almost 20 years.
Her goal in life is to make a difference in the lives of people. She has a passion to preserve the history and photographs of people in ranching and rural America and helping children whose life has dealt them “an underhanded blow.”