Wyoming ranches honored for 100 years
Douglas – Generations of farmers and ranchers gathered in Douglas on Aug. 20 to celebrate 100 years or more in the agriculture industry at the Wyoming Centennial Farm and Ranch ceremony.
This year, 26 family operations were honored at the ceremony, which was attended by a number of dignitaries, including Governor Matt Mead and First Lady Carol Mead, Senator John Barrasso and wife Bobbie, Senator Mike Enzi and wife Diana and Representative Cynthia Lummis and husband Al Wiederspahn, along with Wyoming Stock Growers Association Executive Vice President Jim Magagna, Wyoming Department of Agriculture Director Jason Fearneyhough and Wyoming State Fair Director James Goodrich.
The Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources takes the lead in hosting the Wyoming Centennial Farm and Ranch program.
Magagna commented at the ceremony, “As I look around today, I see a lot of the people who have played significant roles in bringing these ranches to their centennial, but what I’m really focused on is that I see a lot of young people in the room. I hope that those people represent the generation that will carry these ranches on to their next centennial.”
This sentiment was echoed in his comments regarding the upcoming 140th anniversary of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association and its goal to maintain Wyoming farms and ranches.
“We are really focused right now as a priority on assuring the transfer to the next generation of Wyoming ranchers,” said Magagna, “whether it is a member of the family or other people who have that burning desire to have a future in farming and ranching.”
Magagna emphasized continuing the traditions of farming and ranching in Wyoming as incredibly important, and he noted that a vital step in maintaining those traditions is recognizing the history behind the centennial farms and ranches in our state.
Fearneyhough reiterated the need for the next generation of farmers and ranchers in a growing world. The rapidly increasing world population and need to double food production in the next 40 years shows promise for the future of agriculture, according to Fearneyhough.
“There is opportunity for the young people in this room and in agriculture to continue the traditions that your families have set forward in marking their 100 years,” he said.
The praise for Wyoming’s centennial farmers and ranchers continued with remarks from the Wyoming Congressional delegation.
Senator Mike Enzi reflected on his past in Campbell County, noting that the majority of this year’s centennial award winners reside there, and the loyalty of the agriculture community in Wyoming.
“One of the things that kept us in business were the loyal customers of the farm and ranch community,” said Enzi. “Agriculture is loyal to Wyoming businesses, and keeps people in business.”
He further emphasized the achievement of operating for a century, saying, “The average business in the country lasts only five years, and you have withstood everything that has been thrown at you for 100 years.”
Enzi also commended the role of centennial farms and ranches in continuing Wyoming tradition and continuing the rich history of the state.
Representative Cynthia Lummis added to Enzi’s comments about Wyoming history and traditions, highlighting agriculture as the culture of Wyoming.
“It is the Wyoming Centennial Farm and Ranch celebration where people come from all over the state to celebrate those of you who have spent many generations in the business that has formed the backbone of the culture of Wyoming,” commented Lummis.
After success in establishing agriculture as one of Wyoming’s primary industries, Senator John Barrasso recognized the struggles each ranch has endured to reach their centennial.
“There have been storms, droughts, wolves and politicians that you’ve had to deal with,” said Barrasso. “Under those struggles, you have survived and you have succeeded. We’re very proud that you are not just part of the incredible heritage of the state, but also a very important part of the future of the state.”
In closing remarks, Governor Matt Mead recalled a quip from his great grandfather.
“If you hold onto a cow’s tail long enough, it will eventually pull you out of a hole,” said Mead. “There are a lot of times in ag that is it really tough, and if you can just hang on, eventually the good day is coming. Things are pretty good right now, but there are challenges ahead.”
“The story of a hundred years is a story of perseverance. It’s the story of a family holding on to that cow’s tail day in and day out for 100 years,” continued Mead. “Every family here is to be congratulated for that remarkable feat and that true story of perseverance.”
Mead further emphasized the impact of Wyoming farms and ranches and the aptitude of the industry for improving they land they live and work on.
“My grandfather used to say that in Wyoming, where you found one blade of grass, you leave two. That’s the story of ranching. It is always improving and leaving the land better for the next generation,” said Mead. “All of you who have survived 100 years and who have thrived for 100 years have left behind two blades of grass.”
Saige Albert is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.