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Ayn Rand and Agriculture
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By Katie Stockstill-Sawyer
Feb. 8, 2013 5:16 p.m.



I officially started my third trimester of pregnancy this week which means I should be shoulder-deep in parenting and baby books, soaking up all of the advice, do’s and do not’s and parenting horror stories I can before our son, aptly nicknamed Bull, arrives this spring. But instead, I have spent my last few months of free time reading not one but two Ayn Rand books: The Fountainhead and We The Living.

Rand, a Russian-American author, grew up in Communist Russia at the beginning of the 20th century, experiencing first-hand the effects of an everyone-is-equal society. She eventually migrated to the U.S., where she wrote all of her best-selling book, which reflect her dislike for the communist regime.

With The Fountainhead I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The 800-plus-page book started slow but I quickly picked up on the social and moral lessons Rand was conveying through her wide cast of characters. We The Living is more straight-forward in its reproach of Communism and a social welfare state.

I thought nothing of my reading the books, knowing Rand is a widely read author, until a Tweet from NPR caught my eye this morning – linking to an article about an Idaho lawmaker who proposed making another of Rand’s books, Atlas Shrugged, required reading for graduation from any Idaho high school. (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/idaho-legislator-suggests-making-ayn-rand-required-high-school-reading-article-1.1257262)

I haven’t read Atlas Shrugged, but I’m going to guess it also decries social welfare and upholds the importance of capitalism and a free will, two principals this country was founded on and two principals that, I believe, remain vital to the future success of our country.

The ability to forge one’s own path – not let others determine it for them – and continually challenge the status quo – making improvements for themselves and society along the way – are both  important for the growth and success of any industry, agriculture included. And a free market economy allows consumers to respond to those changes and tell producers and the industry exactly what they want – and what they really don’t care for.

As cattle owners, my husband and I continuously strive to raise animals that produce premium beef. Our efforts, when successful, are rewarded by the packers through monetary premiums. The money is not our driving factor – although it does help the cash flow – but instead the desire to be the best and most efficient we can be while producing safe, healthy and delicious beef keeps us going. The beef industry has expanded its offerings and varieties, thanks, in part, to the desire of cattle owners to meet and exceed consumer demands. If we all accepted meritocracy and good-enough, those innovations would have never surfaced.

Today’ agriculture industry is learning to do more with less, find efficiencies in every aspect of the growing, harvesting and production process and developing ways to deliver vital nutrients through basic crops and food stuffs. These iniatives are not being taken up at the request of the government but instead by producers and companies that want to better the world around them.

It’s exciting to be part of an ever evolving and improving industry and, I believe, Ms. Rand would be proud of today’s farmers and ranchers and their ability to exceed expectations and always strive for better.

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