• Carolyn Riggs

An Open Letter to Congresswoman AOC

Rural Americans are some of the most resourceful and innovative contributors to our society. And the more and more we talk to rural ranchers, farmers, and entrepreneurs we’re ever more convinced that progressive values are embedded in rural communities.

But we must educate our city friends. What may work in a thriving metropolis in policy or legislation, simply may not move us an inch out in the sticks.

Listen to us.

An Open Letter to Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez From a Kansas Rancher

Hello Congresswoman,

You don’t know me from Adam but I’ve been following your actions for several months now; both leading up to the election and, now that you’ve taken office, even more so. I swell with pride at the sight of so many women in leadership positions in our nation’s capital and the most recent State of the Union Address highlighted the start of a new chapter in American politics; one that has women more heavily involved than ever before. That’s a great thing and I support this new normal!

However, as a beef producer in rural Kansas working with my family to raise cattle, I feel the need to point out some facts about agriculture that were misrepresented in your Green New Deal. As a rancher, I am proud to produce safe, healthy and affordable beef for a hungry nation. We are producing beef in the United States more sustainably and efficiently than ever before – did you know that the U.S. produces nearly 20% of the world’s beef with only 9% of the world’s cattle? That’s pretty amazing and tells a great story of our efficiency using the resources available to us!

As a rancher, I can tell you that we take the quality of the great outdoors very seriously – air, soil and water quality are all of utmost importance to us here because, well we are the ones living here in the sticks. Which is why our segment of agriculture actively works to reduce our impact on the environment every. single. day. For example, from 2005-2011, the U.S. beef industry reduced its greenhouse gas emissions and water use by 2% and 3%, respectively. That reduction in air emissions puts our figures at just 2% of the sum total of U.S. GHG, according to the EPA. Comparatively, the U.S. transportation sector contributes 28% of GHG emissions.

You might wonder how us farmers and ranchers are lessening our footprint? Good question:

We are using better genetics from cattle to produce animals that yield more tasty beef using fewer inputs from water and land.Every year we are utilizing the best technology available to us to help us manage the health and growth of our animals so we can be efficient with our resources.Did you know that cows are great up-cyclers AND recyclers? Cows are able to take foods like sugar beet pulp and carrot tops – things that would otherwise be wasted as food production by-products – and turn those into beef. This reduces the overall amount of food waste in our great nation. Additionally, what other animal do you know that can take grass and turn it into a delicious steak? Seriously, cows are like superheroes.

Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, I appreciate your dedication to improving our earth and pursuing sustainable futures but I beseech you to please have a conversation with your constituents and colleagues that have an agriculture background. Cows are not the problem – the nearly 264 million cars on the road in the U.S. are a glaring issue. I applaud your efforts to make vehicles more environmentally friendly and if you can commit to working on transportation, I assure you that my fellow farmers and ranchers and I will continue to improve our practices to keep reducing our already negligible impact on the environment.

I would welcome your questions, comments or even a visit to our little ranch property for a tour of the cows.

Thank you for your time – I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards, Brandi Buzzard Frobose Rancher, wife, mama and steward of the land

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