It’s that time of the year when people gather and listen to hear how things are going. As citizens, we listen to our governors and the president talk about how our states and country are doing. As farmers, we attend cooperative annual meetings, agronomy listening sessions and more to find out if the cooperative had a good year or what the results were from last year’s test plots.
Sometimes the news is good, other times not. The strength of our country and the agriculture industry is greatly influenced by weather, trade, governmental regulations and consumer demands.
As we take a look back at things that have helped shape the dairy industry the past year, one might have a hard time saying that we are strong. Producers throughout the country are struggling with water rights, droughts, floods and ice storms. Others enjoy a bountiful harvest and all the water they want.
Then there’s the whole issue of trade – who do we trade with, should there be embargos, we can’t use rBST. Add to the pot regulations regarding manure, controlling methane production from cows, food labeling and the new Veterinary Feed Directive to create one confusing stew.
Let’s not forget about MPP not providing the security blanket it was supposed to, along with the fluctuating milk prices. Consumers want to know where their food comes from and are starting to influence how we raise our animals. Yes, all these things may make you think that the state of the dairy industry is weak. But I disagree. I think the industry is strong and getting stronger.
I can’t think of the industry being anything but strong right now. Everywhere I look, I see young people involved in the industry. Yes, the average age of the farmer is 58 years old, but there are numerous young people employed on these farms. They’re working as A.I. technicians, as nutritionists, in sales and even going into agricultural financing.
These are young people who have grown up on the farm or been exposed to the industry through programs like 4-H and FFA. These young people want the industry to succeed and have the drive to make it successful.
Another reason I feel we are strong is how, as individuals, we are coming together more than ever and supporting each other. Take a look around the country, and you will find conferences and learning workshops going on with state-of-the-art speakers and researchers.
We are soaking in the knowledge and sharing ideas to help make each other and ourselves better. Thanks to Dairy Girl Network, a wonderful opportunity has emerged for dairywomen to support each other. On social media, we share each other’s stories and worries, build each other up and exchange advice to help educate the consumer.
So yes, things might not look all rosy on the outside. Look deep within the industry, and I hope you will agree with me that the industry is strong and growing stronger day by day, person by person. Don’t focus on the negative, find the positive. By continuing to do the things that we are doing well, we can keep this industry growing for the next generation. Here’s to a better 2017.
- Dairy Producer
- Fennimore, Wisconsin