How are the individuals who areresponsible forpart the world’s food supplyresponding to and coping with what is happening all over our planet since the coronavirus outbreak?Whenfood has beendisappearing off grocery store shelves faster than being replaced, are consumers pausing to consider the role of agricultural producers – the farmers and ranchers – at the start of the food-supply chain? What beliefs do these ranchers live by? What do they hold dear? How has COVID-19 affected them? These aresome the questions I have been trying to answer through my photography.
Myproject, Real Ranchers, Real Life, seeks to capture images of how Central Montana rancherscontinue to persevere through these challenging times. My love for the people and their culturedrives me to speak up for them and advocate for this important industry. I’ve been called to take a stance. Recognizing the dire consequences a break in the food supply chain would have, I take social distancing guidelines veryseriously and hold the health my community in the highest priority.
I feel honored to bring forward these photographs as inspiration for all people who carrying on through these difficult times.
PORTRAITS OF PROUD DEDICATION
While not glamorous, the people, landscape and animals I have the opportunity to photograph reveal portraits of beauty, grace and dedication. While going through the images captured, over and over I see images of proud, compassionate, tenacious people who, despite the hardships, challenges and undue criticisms, find a place to bring gratitude and joy while continuing to contribute to the world’s food supply.If you look at the faces of these people you will see smiles that portray integrity and a welcoming feeling.
Agricultural people, by and large, live by the needs of their stock and crops.There isn't a lot of extra time. What time that is left is for their children and community. It’s possibleto be misled by ranchers’often stoic characteristics and overlook their simple joy in the husbandry of their animals and the land that they inhabit.On the whole, they are an isolated people with a trusting generous spirit; agricultural producersare proud and generous people. Ranchers are often a modest bunch and not ones to self-promote.They often endure undue criticism from anoutside world that does not understand cattle ranching. They do so all the while providing for families, contributing to a communities and relying on Mother Nature and what is provided by the land itself.
Even as arelatively isolated population, the ranching community still needs each other and the larger world.Ranchersfeel a high level of uncertainty about the projected future of the cattle industry. Theystill need the support of the country to keep going despite Mother Nature, cattle prices and the potential collapse of the banking system and economy. Cattle still need to be fed, not to mention the people of the country.
If you are not a farmer or rancher, perhaps take the time to get to know one, even though these photos. Examinewhat their struggles are, learnmore about their way of life and its important role in the big picture. Send them support and thanks for a fairly thankless job. If we draw nothing else from these times, we must learn to look deeper, to talk kinder and to carry a greater level of compassion. These are the faces that put food on your table.