I am very excited to be heading to an in-person Denim and Diamonds event this year to see old friends and talk with new ones over a couple of drinks.
For a lot of us that spend the day on farms and ranches, we can end up with a relatively small circle of people we see on a daily basis.
While those people are great and we love all of them, part of the beauty of Oregon agriculture is the diversity of people we get to interact with in normal times.
While I was at Oregon State, my group of friends came from all corners and types of agriculture. We had grass growers from the valley, seed and mint growers from central Oregon, ranchers from Lakeview to Pendleton, a cranberry grower from the south coast, a dairy farmer from Tillamook, and I represented hop growers in my own special way. I find this difference of perspectives and experiences an asset. People may look at things differently but really should be judged on more meaningful qualities like how they treat others or contribute to their communities as a whole.
Our award winners this year are excellent representatives of Oregon agriculture and some of the special differences it features in a single state.
Derrick Josi runs his dairy in a lush green area near the coast, and Alec Oliver runs his ranch in the much drier and sunnier east. While it’s true that they both work with cattle and probably have things in common beyond the four-legged variety, this year they’ll share the stage as excellent representatives of Oregon agriculture.
When I first learned about Alec Oliver’s story I was struck not just by his use of technology to oversee his ranch or his high tech gadgets that help him get around, but also by the level of determination and mental toughness it takes for someone with his challenges not only to persist but to excel. Managing a ranch with the scope of the Oliver Ranch is an impressive feat. Add to that the pride and pressure that comes from being in charge of the 150-plus year legacy, everyone will realize why Alec was chosen as Agriculturalist of the Year. He will not only keep the ranch around for the next generation, he will make it a model for the industry to follow.
Oregon Aglink exists to unite urban and rural people. We spend a vast amount of our time trying to explain what agriculture is to city folk. Under that definition, Ag Connection award-winner Derrick Josi is a one man Aglink. What stands out is how “real” Derrick comes across. He is not scared to give his opinion, but he does it in a respectful and funny way that keeps people listening. We all can learn to be as proud of sharing what we do as Derrick Josi.
We all should remember that in today’s world of judging people and being judged we should be proud of our lives and contributions to agriculture.
No matter how uninformed or confrontational some are to our livelihoods, you can rest assured their lives would be much worse off without people like Derrick and Alec: people who are willing to put their energies into not only their operations but into making sure agriculture thrives into the future.