Jon AngellFrom the Publisher ... Jon Angell

Up front this month, we lead with several news items. The Diemel family tragedy I expect to be in the news throughout 2020 and likely longer. The process of justice through the court system is slow and detailed work. We will continue to watch this one unfold and bring you details as we can.

Also in the courts, the Brazilians are still pursuing and prosecuting charges of corruption in the meatpacking world. Five billion dollars sounds like the government prosecutors are trying to send a message; at least it caught my attention. I have often thought that bribes and corruption are common practice in much of the world outside of the United States. I may be naïve, overly nationalistic, and maybe even too much a believer in American exceptional-ism to think that corruption, bribery and fraud a problem for others.

With current turmoil in the daily news cycle and certain institutions (FBI, CIA, IRS, State Dept, Justice Dept. etc….) being revealed as not what I believed them to be, I have evolved in my thinking. It will be harder and harder for me to go without a certain amount of skepticism on so much that I use to not question in political leadership, government servants, news outlets, as well as in the business world. With so much world trade, cross border supply chains, as well as multi-national ownership of companies and the movement of people with a different cultural all on the move, caution and skepticism seems all too prudent. The benefits of world trade and porous borders have come with hidden cost.

We need to make sure and be on the watch that foreign companies assimilate to the American system and be watchful that they leave bad behavior behind. The idea of a melting pot and assimilation to the ideas that made America a beacon of hope and dreams need to be rekindled. We need to defend our rights as individuals and our sovereignty as a nation that is under constant attack from both outside our borders, as well as domestically.

I understand that there is a lot of polarization and debate. But I think that it is a debate that is overdue. I’m thinking we need to get back to an agreement of foundational principles. It seems to me, that the rule of law and national pride has been damaged in the last couple of decades. It is not only my hope, but my belief that the pendulum of change will swing back a regain some of what was lost and 2020 will be a pivotal year.

Along those lines of foundational principles, it will play out in all kinds of everyday ways. As an example, just look at the other story on the front page about NCBA digging into beef origin labeling claims; I mentioned this briefly last month. This is basic foundational stuff. NCBA is citing WTO concerns, voluntary country of origin marketing claims for the product of USA labels. It galls me and others that a USA rancher must incur an added expense to “voluntarily” differentiate their USA born, raised and processed product. This product, even as a commodity, is the culmination of a lot of time, capital hard labor,…. AND a long established tradition of wholesome quality.

Meanwhile, both domestically owned and foreign owned packers can process import cheaper foreign cattle and beef and then sell it into the market with the benefit of that well-established value proposition of a USA label for free! This gives the packer yet another advantage over the domestic cattlemen, domestic retailers AND the domestic consumer. This is an unearned unfair market advantage through government lobbying and regulation.

This is wrong. It goes against common sense and a common understanding of fair trade. This doesn’t happen with so many other commodities here or with beef in other countries. It doesn’t pass the smell test, it just stinks!

While thinking of common sense and fighting bullies and general unfairness, this brings to mind my most recent read. The book, Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life… Maybe the World was a Christmas gift for 2019 from the investment advisory firm that supervises the retirement accounts at work. It was for all practical purposes the last book I read in 2019 and an excellent choice as I look to goals and resolutions for 2020. I’m not looking to change the world, but if changing a few little things will have an oversized impact on my quality of life; I’m in!

It is a short book of advice that has its roots in a popular University of Texas Commencement Speech given by the author, Admiral William H McRaven, back in May of 2014. Since then, the speech has been seen on YouTube literally several million times. This book expands on that speech and its simple first idea from chapter one that if you make your bed every morning right after you get out of “the rack,” you will have accomplished the first task of the day. Just this small habit will become a sense of pride and will encourage you to complete another task, another task, and yet another task again. By the end of the day, many tasks will be completed that all started from making your bed, your simple first task of the day. It will also reinforce the fact that little things matter. “If you can’t do the little things right,” McRaven says, “you will never do the big things right.”

McRaven goes on to talk of ten points/rules, each given a chapter – many of which he specifically credits to his Navy SEAL training. He shares many anecdotes and experiences from his military career to illustrate his ten key points. It is a mixture of memoir and self-improvement reading. The result is a persuasive and entertaining read.

Other chapters include; You can’t go it alone; only the size of your heart matters; life’s not fair – drive on; failure can make you stronger; you must dare greatly; stand up to the bullies; rise to the occasion; give people hope; and never, ever quit!

In short, this book is both inspirational and insightful; making it an excellent gift book. Have you friends or family with a graduation pending in 2020? This might be the gift to give.

We have a lot to share in this first month’s issue of a new decade, let’s make 2020 a great year together. Thanks for your support of our efforts, and thanks for reading.