It doesn’t matter the cause

I am confident that never, in recent history, has there been a New Year’s Eve celebration that more people have been anticipating than 2021.

Typically this week I take a look at what I feel has been the biggest agriculture news story of the year. I reckon there just won’t be much debate about what the top story was—clearly a virus and its impact on life, the election and the future of the food business. I, for one, have some things to reflect back on as 2020 fades away, with a guarantee that where we are headed may not be any more comfortable.

It’s good to start with the silver linings created in 2020; it afforded everyone an opportunity to prioritize more time spent on life. For quite some time, COVID-19 was something that was happening in the world but we really didn’t know anybody directly affected. In fact, the statistics show that the human health impact from coronavirus is not a real big deal unless you fall into that fraction of a percentage whom were most vulnerable. Then, for you and your family, it is a huge deal.

Recently I received a telephone call from my friend Celeste Settrini, in California, and she said a friend she had introduced me to was hospitalized with COVID and in very bad shape. Dick Nock died on Dec. 28, 2020, at the age of 89. He was not shorted in life and he had lived life to the fullest. I only met Dick one day in my life and it was a day that is forever etched in my mind. I was speaking near Templeton, California, and Celeste told me I really needed to meet this long time family friend.

He was based out of the Templeton Livestock Market, where his office was located, and had been a cattle buyer since 1957. The significance is that we met him at the sale barn the day before it was demolished in 2015. The market was instrumental for cattlemen in the central coast region of California but the new reports indicated it had been a casualty of change and developing markets. As Dick and I sat in the seats for the final time that anyone would ever put their boots on the floor, it was a very sentimental day for this guy who had spent his entire career there.

As we visited about how this is “progress” and a huge chunk of the region’s history and heritage was about to be torn down, my sorrow really had nothing to do with the auction ring, the phenomenal seats or the yard pens; it was all about the man I shared the experience with.

I use Dick Nock as my example because it weighs heavy on my mind today. People say COVID-19 was his killer but it really doesn’t matter at this point. In the calendar year 2020, we lost so many people who were close to us or shaped our lives in one way or another throughout the years. In fact, the CDC tells us that 3 million people will have died in 2020. For the record, that death toll is not statistically different this year than in years past but I repeat, “it doesn’t matter the cause.”

Maybe the real reason for me to share this sentimental journey with you today is that many times Celeste would remind me, “Dick would love to hear from you, you should call him.” And I did. Did I call him enough? Did I let any one opportunity for just a “Hey Dick, how are you doing”, get away from me? No doubt I did. No doubt each of us has the opportunity to do that more with those whom we have encountered along our journey of life.

In reflecting back on 2020, to me it is all about prioritizing those in life that have touched and influenced us along the way. We must each make sure that is not something we can look back on with regret. “I wish I would have,” is a tough one to deal with when it’s too late. So really “it doesn’t matter the cause,” just pick up the phone and call. Let’s make 2021 about what we should always put as our top priority—people.

Editor’s note: Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at, or email Trent at [email protected].