True Environmentalists

Published on: 17:36PM Oct 29, 2010

To make sure our operation is viable to transfer to the next generation, we need new ideas, sound science, technology and a voice in the process.

RonGibson 125x125
Gibson milks 1,400 cows at his Green Acres family dairy near Ogden.

By Ron Gibson, West Weber, Utah

As stewards of the land, we feel a great responsibility to make sure that we properly care for the environment and the land that provides us our income.
As fifth-generation farmers, my brother and I are on the original farm here in Weber County, Utah. I still remember the stories my grandpa told about how each parcel of ground was acquired. He would explain how much work and dedication it took for our ancestors to build the operation that we now have today. I think that many of the enemies of agriculture have forgotten that, as farmers, we are the true environmentalists.
Being open-minded is a key step for us as dairymen to approach new ideas, sound science and technology. As the manager/owner of a growing dairy business, sometimes I feel uneasy about new things. Many years ago, I remember feeling apprehensive when I was told we needed a nutrient management plan. I wondered how I was supposed to keep track of all that stuff. Now I realize that it was a great step in the right direction to help me know why my crops are doing what they are doing. It saves us money now because we are only applying the amount of fertilizer necessary to grow the crop.
This does not mean that we shouldn’t have a voice in the process of developing regulation for our business. The costs of many ridiculous mandates can severely hamper the success of family farming operations. One opportunity we have is to vote and support political candidates who understand and care about our way of life. We also need to be involved in organizations that represent grass-root policy and can voice our needs to our elected leaders. We need to help others understand the love we have for the land.
One of the main goals on our farm is to do everything we have to do to make sure our operation is viable to transfer to the next generation. In order to do that, we will continue to implement strategies that will help us continue to be environmentally responsible. We will base those decisions on sound science and our ability to adapt to new technologies. We were approached last month by a company that wants to purchase all of the compost that we can produce. We are going to try to incorporate that into our nutrient management plan by next spring. 
With the tough economic times in the dairy industry in the last few years, each change we make must be financially responsible. I believe that with an open mind there is ample technology to succeed in our efforts to be the true environmentalists.