Nalivka: Community Ties Important For Rural America

Cows grazing western range ( MTPR )

Stage One of the U.S. – China trade agreement has been signed, the Senate ratified (finally) the USMCA, and the new U.S.-Japan trade agreement was implemented on January 1. There may be disagreement on some issues in the beef industry, but I think there is little disagreement, if any, regarding the positive impact of trade. The beef industry continues to build for the future addressing trade, quality improvement, animal welfare, and sustainable production (I would like to find another word for that).

Having said all of that, I want to switch gears and address an article that appeared recently in the Tri-State Livestock News (The Cattle Journal, Beef & Business, 2020 Edition, page 240.) about the Ligocki Ranch in Sheridan, Wyo., “One Hundred One Years In Wyoming’s Coal Country.” First, it is an excellent article and in light of my many connections, it truly caught my eye.

Born and raised in Sheridan, WY, a significant part of my family history (my mother’s side of the family) worked in Sheridan County coal mines. One of my great-grandfathers was the General Superintendent of Sheridan, WY, Coal Company, the owner of several of the mines operating in the era mentioned in the article.

My other great-grandfather was a mine foreman. I have his and my great-grandmother’s original Certificates of Naturalization dated June 19, 1925. When the mine at Monarch closed, my grandparents and my parents moved to Sheridan, the year I was born. My father’s side of the family were coal miners near Rock Springs, Wyo.

Another connection to the article – the beef industry. I didn’t become a miner. I started working on a ranch in the Powder River Basin when I was in high school (1968) and while my beef industry association now goes beyond the ranch, it was that first ranch job that became the catalyst to a life-long career in the beef industry.

Just as coal mining and the mines near Sheridan have seen significant change, so has the beef industry. TSLN’s article illustrates well the changes that have occurred in two of Wyoming’s and our country’s major industries – mining and agriculture. Across rural America, close-knit ties were established in both mining and agricultural communities.

While change is inevitable, it is important to maintain those community ties built around agriculture and mining that have been the fabric of rural America. At the same time, as the beef industry continues to evolve in order to meet demand from both U.S. and global customers, it is imperative that cattlemen maintain forward progress.

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