Bruce Vincent

(Conrad) Good morning and welcome to Farm Factor on AGam in Kansas. I’m your host Conrad Kabus. Recently Farm Factor attended a lecture of the guest speaker of Bruce Vincent. This lecture was sponsored by the Food for Thought program here at Kansas State University. (Bruce) I travel around and talk a lot to natural resource groups and other groups about leading the discussions over our nation’s environmental future. And especially at places like Kansas State where a land grant institution where a lot of the students that are here are learning about natural resource management whether it’s agriculture or forestry, animal agriculture. I talk about how to maintain the social license to operate because those of us that manage the environment for the consumption of humankind providing food, shelter, clothing. We only operate with the consent of the public. So, I talk about how to maintain that license and how to maintain that consent. (Conrad) During the past 20 years Bruce has given motivational speeches throughout the United States and the world. He has testified on natural resource issues before Congress. Bruce has been named Timberman of the Year in Montana, National Forest Activist of the year, and in 2004 received the presidential Preserve America Award from President Bush. His current activities represent a family commitment to responsible environmentalism. (Bruce) I’m actually a third generation logger from Libby, Montana. And logging, it is a crop. Forests are a crop. It just takes us a 100 years to figure out whether or not we’ve screwed up. But I was raised in a family with a deep sense of stewardship, believing that if we did a decent job of taking care of the forest, it would do a decent job of taking care of us and future generations. So, we worked hard at learning from our past mistakes, the timber barren days. And how do we manage a forests for the future? I went to college in Portland, Oregon. And when I went to school, I found out that the rest of the students that I was going to school with didn’t look at me as a steward. They looked at me as an axe murdering Neanderthal. They thought I was killing the trees. They had no idea about management. So, when I moved back home after getting my degree at Gonzaga University, I went back home and joined the family logging company and started working with them. I also recognized that loggers, foresters were losing our consent to operate. The public didn’t know what we were doing in their forests, and they loved the forest. And they saw us as destructive instead of managers. So, started speaking out about what we believed needed to happen in the forest, so the public would have one in 200 years. And it kind of grew from that. I found out that the rest of natural resource managers, whether it’s a farming or animal agriculture or mining, we’re all facing the same issue of a public that consumes but has no idea, no linkage to resource management. And so I started speaking out on it and I’ve ended up here.

(Conrad) Good morning and welcome to Farm Factor on AGam in Kansas. I’m your host Conrad Kabus. Farm Factor recently attended a lecture sponsored by the Food for Thought program at Kansas State University. The guest speaker was Montana native Bruce Vincent. Listen to Bruce as he explains the problems with agriculture today. (Bruce) Our biggest problem in rural American is that there is a discussion going on over the environment, how to protect it. And we’ve done a really poor job of defining what our role in that protection is, how can we be part of what the public perceives to be an answer to taking care of the environment and some of the issues, most of the issues are currently not based on science, they’re based on emotion. They have no natural resource linkage but the have an inherent love of the environment. So, that’s our problem. Talking with these people about very complex issues in a very complex world, and putting it into their world view. Because if they think they have to pick between clean water in Kansas and agriculture in Kansas, if they’ve got a functioning brain cell, they’ll pick clean water. So, we’ve got to talk to them about how they can have both. If they want healthy food and we want them to understand genetic modification we need to make it acceptable to them. We need to explain to them the science of what that is. And explain it not in our language, but in theirs. They’re the people that we have to work with. They’re the people that give us the license to operate. And we’ve done a terrible job of that. Particularly in timber, we stood on street corners and shouted what we believed to be the truth at the public. And we should have spent a great deal of time listening to them. And asking them what their issues were and then formulating our answer to their issues, so that we could be part of their solution. Unless we do that they’re not gonna allow us to operate. And I don’t blame them. Until we can articulate our sustainable vision of their future, their environmental future, they think we don’t have a place in the future. (Conrad) …are being made by farmers and ranchers everyday offering perspective for those working and living in agriculture about the business of raising food, fuel, feed and fiber. Agriculture is now using tools like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to spread to mass influence. (Bruce) I’m actually more hopeful now than when I first started speaking out a couple of decades ago. And it’s because the American public is ready. They’re tired of the doom and gloom, bongo drum beating, incense burning, planet is dying crap that they’ve been getting for decades. They’re tired of hearing what’s wrong and ready to hear what can be right. And in that discussion of how we provide for human kind and protect the environment, American industry the American production culture is the green choice. We’re not perfect, we’ve made mistakes in the past, we’re making mistakes today, we’re gonna make mistakes in the future. But when it comes to comparing us to other places in the world that can provide food and shelter for the coming 9 to 11 billion other souls, they should choose us. We’re the safest, most productive, most efficient, most environmentally sound producers in the world. So our job is to convince the American public that we’re the green choice. They should want their beef to come from Kansas, and their corn to come from Iowa and their gourds to come from Montana. We shouldn’t import products from developing countries that are using methods that we quit using 30 years ago and call it green because we don’t have to see production. So my hope is the American public will make the green
choice and we’ll succeed in convincing them that that’s us.

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