Perspectives from the ranching culture in the 1990's : addressing mythological and environmental concerns Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/qr46r487z

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  • Ideals of freedom, independence, and land ownership helped form and perpetuate the mythology of ranching in the United States. However, stereotypes emerged as a result of distortion from the media and the move away from the land. Social philosophies changed regarding the environment, land use, and the health and safety of the food supply in the late 20th century. In relation to the mythology, stereotype, and social theory regarding the ranching culture, this research seeks to clarify the fundamental principles, business philosophy, lifestyle, and values of men and women raising beef as a food product on both public and private lands in the 1990's. The mythology surrounding ranchers and cowboys are the result of three historical periods in the United States; however, the last 100 years have had the most profound effect in developing stereotypes. In this survey, 42 ranchers in Lake County, Oregon and Modoc County, California describe the challenges, satisfactions, and the partnership with Nature that is part of their livelihood in the harsh, high desert environment of eastern Oregon and northeastern California. The low ratio of private ground in these counties creates a dependency on use of public lands for grazing. This use if often stereotyped as "welfare ranching," without computation for other variables that make it comparable with private leasing. Historically, the Taylor Grazing Act authorizes fee grazing between ranchers and the U.S. government, but current philosophy has shifted its view of free enterprise on public lands, terming it "resource extraction." Although ranching is high in risk and low in economic return, ranchers stay in the business because they value freedom, hard work, family cohesiveness, and the interaction with Nature and the land. The future of ranching is challenged by environmental policy, government agency relations, public opinion, the high cost of land and production, and a lack of unity in the beef industry. To survive, ranchers need to unify, sharpen communication skills, provide education about ranching practices to the public, and become service-oriented as an organization to change stereotype and meet the social criteria of the next century.
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