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Introduction to Sowing Possibility Episode 7 featuring Jeanie Alderson

Dear Community, Growing up this was a favorite time of year on my family's farm and ranch. Back then there was still snow on the ground and the longer, slightly warmer days that came before farming's spring work, meant calving season was in full swing. Each day brought new surprises. Sand creek would break loose from its coat of winter ice, the jack rabbits' hair would turn from white back to brown and new calves would wobble their way up to the world. I'd excitedly tag along to our small winter pasture to see what calves had just been born – would there be twins, black baldies or a calf I'd have to bottle feed! Of course I knew the calves' fate and that one day they'd grow up and leave the ranch, but on those Spring mornings there was nothing but sky and snow and the sweet bellowing of baby calves. Right now Jeanie Alderson is in the full swing of calving season on her ranch near Birney, Montana. I'm sure she finds mindful moments when the new life that's emerging and the beauty of the rugged landscape are all-encompassing, but I know there is something else on Jeanie's mind: the monopolistic practices in the meatpacking industry that are adding worry to the stress and nonstop work of calving – worry as to whether or not she will get a fair price for this year's calf crop. Jeanie's family has been ranching in the area for over a hundred years and have seen the type of unfair practices that are affecting the livestock industry today. Just as there are calving cycles, there are cycles of boom and bust, and the loosening and tightening of legislation meant to safeguard fair competition and fair prices for America's farmers and ranchers. Right now, due to four monopolies that own 85% of the meatpacking industry, ranchers aren't getting a fair shake at things, and some are being forced out of business. This is the issue at the heart of today's episode. But just as I started with what I loved about my family's ranch in this letter to you, I hope today's episode first underscores Jeanie's incredible connection to her family's ranch, the Tongue River Valley and to the broader State of Montana. And I hope, if you haven't lived on a ranch, or even if you don't eat meat, that this episode illustrates why working ranches are a critical piece of our national economy, food system and climate solution. Yours, Megan


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