Our ranch just guaranteed the minimum amount of income we will make this fall. This is revolutionary for the ranching industry and a real game changer!
One of the major downfalls to having cattle, and making your income from selling cattle, is that you are dealing with a very volatile market. Circumstances completely out of your control sets what your product is worth. Throughout the year input costs (expenses) are fixed or rising, i.e. fuel, seed grain, machinery, etc. We could rely on the minimum expenditures, but up until yesterday in British Columbia, we could not rely on an estimated income.
In the last 14 years, we have seen violent swings in the market! In 2003 when a case of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) was discovered in Canada, our market crashed. I remember sitting in the auction market and saw a old mama cow go for a cent/pound! Which made her worth $12!! This spring a similar cow sold for $1500. Because of that catastrophic BSE event, the whole ranching and beef industry was devastated and billions of dollars where lost. It significantly played a part in the price of beef, because of closed borders, but there are many other factors that play a part in the price of beef too. These factors can be:
-The Weather: making a surplus or shortage of cattle feed.
-The US/Canadian $
-The availability of trucks and the weather during shipping.
It may be hard to understand, or appreciate what it feels like when your income is cut in half by nothing that you have or haven’t done. Imagine with your job that you do right now, if at the end of the year: 2/3’s of your pay check was not there! That is how it has been working with the cattle market. We did the work, but did not get paid equally for it. Our calves were born and grew beautifully; we worked the same as any other year to manage them, dealt with all the stresses of drought and expenses, but at the end of the year we made 1/2 of what we needed. To cover for the loss, many ranchers had to go get another job, working it as well as the ranch. This is how it has been for the ranching industry, especially since 2003. Writing this blog has made me very emotional as I try to articulate why this insurance is so important. It has brought up ‘penned-up stress’ of all the years wondering if we were going to be able to make a living.
The arrival of this insurance has made me realize two things, one: how thankful I am that we are now guaranteed a minimum income and two: how much our family was subconsciously stressed by dealing with unknown nature of volatile markets. I can’t tell you how revolutionary this insurance is for all of us.