From the Ground Up - Environmental Activists in Agriculture

Earlier this month at Texas A&M’s Beef Short Course, participants heard from a logger in Montana that maintains that agricultural producers are the real environmental activists in our country because of their stewardship of the land.

Bruce Vincent is a third generation logger from Libby, Montana.

“My biggest concern growing up where I did was the forest I live in. My issue was forestry. It’s agriculture, being good stewards, being good conservationists, but when I went to college I found out that the rest of the people did not look at us as stewards.

They had this misshapened view of who we were and what we did for the thing they loved, their environment. They’re making some terrible decisions about the thing they love. They’re actually hurting it, and we need to talk to them so that they find out what the stewards are doing to protect the thing they love, the environment. When we can build that bridge, they’re going to be on our side.”

Vincent lives in a community that’s in the middle of a two and a half million acre national forest.

“Some folks decided they wanted to see all logging stopped. They didn’t understand it. It’s kind of ugly, kind of like looking inside the slaughter house and they had to drive by it in their car and they didn’t want it to happen anymore, so they started filing law suits against the federal government.”

The law suits resulted in hurting the things they were designed to protect.

“I’m on the grizzly bear recovery team. We’ve got room for them in our forest, but not if it’s burning. We’ve got room for salamanders in or forest, but not if it’s boiling the streams. The nexus for me was that they were asking for things and they were getting completely different results.”

Vincent believes many of agriculture’s opponents act out of ignorance.

“They’ve been told since they were in the fifth grade that their planet’s doomed, and then we want them to recycle a can? Why? If they believe the fear mongering, then they give up hope. We can weigh into that discussion with a great deal of hope. There’s a way to provide food for people and protect the planet, shelter for people and protect the planet. We just need to talk to them about how.”

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