Riding Shotgun – America’s Backbone

Riding Shotgun Caption
As we travel the highways and by-ways of the Limousin family and breed we often cuss and discuss the cattle business, sports, politics, great cheeseburgers and most of the time, the promotion and marketing of Limousin cattle.

Through “Riding Shotgun” we invite you to join us in the right-hand seat, so that we can let you in on what we find to be our marketing pet peeves, shortcuts and some of the favorite habits of top-flight professional producers. Grab a cup of coffee and take the ‘shotgun seat’—we are pleased to have you riding along.

It has been awhile since we came to you from the driver’s seat and we are glad to return. In recent months, the nation has been changed for all of us and the effects will be felt for years to come. We have observed that social distancing has nothing to do with your daughter’s prom date and we have found that real heroes are doctors, nurses, first responders, packing plant workers, truck drivers and supermarket stockers. The nation has learned that agriculture does not stop for a virus, that the American farmer and rancher can’t work on Zoom and that the food chain may start on the farm, but it goes through the feedlot, the packing plant, the trucking industry and the supermarket.

What we saw from the properly quarantined, socially distant, six feet of separation was that the American cattleman is ready for any challenge. Successful bull sales happened with more bulls in the pens than people in the seats. These bulls found new homes and went to work breeding cows for calves that will be born in 2021 and won’t enter the food chain until 2022 or early 2023. That is good old-fashioned American Optimism. We will survive and we found that the American consumer desires, likes and needs our product. Unfortunately the packer received the biggest share of this pent up demand, but the lesson here is that meat did fly off of the shelves and we are definitely leading the protein business.

I will readily admit to you that your enthusiasm as breeders and cattlemen is awe inspiring. I live on the edge of a large midwestern city and it was easy to watch too much news and read too much internet. Agriculture did not miss a beat and if anything, it thrived, even while being kicked in the shins. Feeding folks is what you DO and you should count yourselves among the heroes mentioned at the start of this column. We still need to do a better job telling our story and a better job making sure the producer shares in the profit. Hopefully that will be what comes from this experience, a greater appreciation for the real heroes, big and small.

I would like to take a personal moment to salute the memory of Ed Pinegar. Ed would always ask not only about what calves looked good, but how was your family and what was new in your life. He will be missed by everyone who had contact with him.

As we move into a new time, we should take time to breathe, safely hug our families and friends and enjoy the world we live in—it looks a lot better from the back of a horse or the seat of a tractor. Congratulations, you are the essential backbone of America. I am proud to know you.

See you down the road.


Mark A Smith
email: [email protected]
phone: 515-229-5227