Stan Blake recognizes WSGA and recalls his time as representative
Stan Blake represented District 39 in the Wyoming House of Representatives from 2007-2020. He actively served on the agriculture, state and public lands and water resources committee during his years of service, which he came to thoroughly enjoy.
“It was a real joy working with chairmen on this committee,” he says. “It was my favorite committee of all.”
Stan never ranched or farmed himself – he worked as a conductor for the Union Pacific Railroad. During his time as representative, he was able to gain a better understanding of Wyoming ag, which he partly accredits to the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA).
Working with WSGA
Although he didn’t come from an ag background, Stan advocated for agriculture throughout his time as a representative and always considered what ranchers had to say.
“I was one of the few Democrats representing Wyoming at the time,” he says, “but I always supported ag issues all the way.”
After retiring from the House, Stan recalls receiving the “nicest e-mail” from WSGA Executive Vice President Jim Magagna. Stan says the e-mail mentioned Jim never expected a railroader from Green River would be such an advocate for the Wyoming ag industry.
“I was really honored to receive this acknowledgement,” says Stan.
Advocating for ag
Stan views Wyoming ranchers as conservationists who want what’s best for the land, and he says WSGA continues to advocate for proper land use.
“Stock growers are probably the best stewards of our land in Wyoming,” he says. “They’re as good or better than anyone else, and a lot of conservation groups agree.”
Stan feels WSGA members and Wyoming ranchers often get a bad reputation for their use of the land, but he disagrees with this.
“Stock growers know their futures depend on keeping the land and water pristine. They are the true stewards of theland, in my opinion,” he says. “There are some great lobbyists representing the livestock industry – to have those guys up there to put forward the trials and tribulations of the ranchers is much needed.”
Stan mentions Wyoming ag has evolved and adapted along with a changing society over the years.
“Technology has come a long way, and Wyoming has adapted really well,” he says. “WSGA is becoming more tech savvy. Years ago, probably no farmer had a computer, now a lot of them have computers right there in their trucks,” he says.
Stan says eminent domain was a huge issue WSGA faced during his time as a representative. Private property rights were also constantly discussed, which he mentions are still a major challenge WSGA faces.
He says he always supported private property rights, but he advocated for public land use as well.
“I’m a proponent of public lands, but public lands are multiple-use lands – this includes grazing livestock,” he says.
Stan notes a current issue WSGA faces is the monopoly created by dominating packing plants and their prices. He says WSGA needs to ensure customers are aware higher food prices are not the fault of ranchers, because ranchers are the price takers.
“You look at the price of beef raised in Wyoming, and the ranchers aren’t making the money, the packing plants are making the money,” he says.
Stan notes the U.S. needs more state certified and U.S. Department of Agriculture certified plants and slaughterhouses.
“I’m not happy with the big monopoly,” he says. “These packing plants control the price of everything.”
Stan mentions he buys beef directly from a rancher and gets it processed locally.
“I wish we could all go to this route, you know where the animal is raised, you know where it was butchered and it’s in your freezer,” he says. “I hope we keep trending this way, and I think we will.”
“We need to rally behind WSGA and put them in the forefront,” Stan says. “In my mind, Wyoming beef is the best beef in the nation, maybe even the world.”
Appreciation for WSGA
Stan is grateful for the WSGA members he was able to work with throughout his time as representative and acknowledges the value WSGA brings to the table in legislation.
“WSGA provided me with valuable information I needed to know,” he says. “All livestock lobbyists I dealt with were straight shooters, they’ll tell their side of the issue and the other side of the issue, then you have to make a decision.”
Stan mentions legislators often don’t have experience in the ag industry, so WSGA plays an important role in educating decision makers at the state level and in Washington D.C.
“The information WSGA lobbyists provide to a legislator who isn’t in the industry is invaluable,” he says. “There are a few legislators in the ag industry but not as many as there used to be, so we need to be educated.”
Kaitlyn Root is an editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.