AR-News: (US-nm) Radical change on the range
info at animalconcerns.org
Sun Feb 15 10:36:57 EST 2004
At a recent get-together of 435 members of the Quivira Coalition in
Albuquerque, I visited the future of the grasslands. In a dark bar, I even
met the rancher's worst nightmare: a Buddhist vegetarian.
Yet my glimpse onward filled me with hope. In fact, I'm surprised at how
closely the time-to-come resembles the idealized past.
Besides ranchers and farmers, the conference welcomed vegetarians and
Republicans and Democrats and Libertarians and Buddhists and Catholics and
Mormons. All believe that grazing animals - cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens,
llamas or whatever else eats grass - were perfectly designed by nature to
enhance the native grasses. If the land is healthy, so will be the people
who live there. And the food they raise, whether lettuce or beef, will be
better for consumers as well.
Of course, ranchers love to cuss ignorant environmentalists who don't know
anything about cows. And environmentalists love to curse stupid ranchers
whose cows leave manure in the creek. For 20 years, I've been both a
rancher and an environmentalist, and sometimes I've been embarrassed by my
"Well, we meat-eating ranchers may not be Buddhist, but we grew up knowing
that," I answered. Eventually, we shook hands, somewhat amazed by our
agreement. That's how things work in Quivira: utter opposites can discover
how much they have in common.
The Quivira Coalition isn't the only organization working for change
through cooperation, but it's got to be one of the best.
Linda Hasselstrom is a rancher in South Dakota and writer who lives
part-time in Wyoming. She is a contributor to Writers on the Range, a
service of High Country News in Paonia. For more information, go to
www.quiviracoalition.org , or call 505-820-2544.
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