Why Private Property Rights Matter to the Future of Food and Beef

cattle in a field

Rankin Ranch, located in the mountains of Kern County above Caliente, has been the home of 6 generations that have worked and loved the land for over 150 years. Over 150 generations of cows and calves, and the native area wildlife, have enjoyed the benefits of the continued care of the land and resources lovingly tended by the Rankin family.

Farms and ranches have the unique position of being between federally held wildlife areas and national parks and urban settlements.  The history of property ownership has much to do with the values of our country and the reasons our country came into existence.

Many of the original settlers came to the United States to have the opportunity for one right – to own their own land and not be beholden to the feudal landlords of Europe.

So when the rights to own and operate on private property are threatened, it tears at the basic fabric of what has made this country what it is – the Land of Opportunity.

When we as a nation question the rights of anyone to own and operate property, we put the basis of the “Land of Opportunity” in jeopardy.  The size of the land holding does not matter, what does matter is the fact that Government grabbing of land to become the primary landowner in the western United States harkens to the system in feudal Europe, where permission or favor of those in power positions is required to pursue the security of land or property ownership.

There is a deep human connection to the land, and those that farm or ranch have taken up the responsibility to be good stewards of the soil and those that depend on it.  Let’s be clear here – it is not the intent of a farmer or rancher to only benefit themselves, but the very nature of the business of farming and ranching is to grow food for an ever increasing world population.  The responsibility of our job is to feed people, and the dream of our job is to leave a legacy of a family of farmers and ranchers to be here for generations to continue to feed peoplethrough good stewardship of resources.

cowboy checking on his cattle

Part of resource management is encouraging cattle to utilize other areas of the ranch when needed to preserve soil, water, and plant life resources. Horseback work has continued to be a part of land and cattle care on Kern County family owned ranches past the days of horse and buggy. Horses allow the cattle and remote areas of the ranch to be cared for while preserving plants and soil stability that are not able to suitable to vehicle traffic.

The demands being made on ranchers and farmers to give up the efficiency of their operations, to give up homesteaded land that has been carefully tended by generations, is a warning sign to every business owner, home owner, and person in our country.  Already, farms and ranches are being lost in record numbers to urban pressures to own land and government land acquisitions.  We understand the desire to have a piece of the American dream, but in the process let’s not cut our access to a safe and reliable food supply available right here on our country’s home soil.

Many states have been in the process of implementing Right to Farm legislation to protect the rights of those who raise our food.  The process of feeding us is complex.  Government regulations and limits on resources are continually demanding that we do more with less – less land, less water and less inputs.  The amazing thing is that both farmers and ranchers have stepped up to the plate and made it happen, and maintained a healthy harvest of food.  It is a testament to the adaptability of those that feed us.  The United States still has one of the safest and most reliable food supplies in the world, because of the “can do” attitude of those that raise our food and livestock.

No one will take as good of care of the land as the one who owns it, and intends on building a legacy of producing food raised in the USA for generations to come.  We hope you take time to understand the need for private property rights protection for the safety and sustainability of food for future generations of your family, and our country.  Your grandchildren and great grandchildren will thank you.

This article was originally posted in the Kern Business Journal.

Julie BarnettJulie Barnett is currently the VP of Kern County Cattlewomen and Scholarship Committee Chairman. In 2015 she was honored by the organization as Cattlewoman of the Year. She is passionate about supporting future generations of agriculture producers to assure a safe and adequate US grown food supply for us all.


  1. Susan

    Excellent article I as a citrus grower have wondered if the increasing government regulation and the withholding of
    Water in the Central Valley was the beginning of population control. After reading Stealing America, this article and doing some serious thinking it seems that it is even more insidious than that.