When we started publishing 18 issues at the beginning of the year, some people asked me if the dairy industry produced enough news to merit publishing 50 percent more frequently than we had been for the last 20 years.
This past month’s events have reconfirmed that our industry continues to change rapidly and news about those changes is coming at an increasing pace.
Since I last wrote this column (March 25), the price of oil has increased almost 25 percent, the Midwest has reignited the debate over the use of rBST on dairies, politicians and presidential candidates refuse to face our nation’s need for immigration reform, and animal welfare activists have stolen center stage and continue to attempt to give the dairy industry a black eye. Just recently the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) released another undercover video capturing activities at an auction showing what they are defining as animal cruelty.
None of these issues will be resolved anytime soon. So meanwhile our industry rocks back and forth like a ship tossed by the waves of an approaching storm.
In the last two months, I’ve visited with dairy producers and industry stakeholders in four states. All of them agree that our industry faces volatility. Yet I was most impressed by the comments of one Iowa dairy producer.
Dairyman Kevin Blood has what I believe our entire industry needs at this time – optimism. He had several reasons to complain, but he didn’t.
By the end of April, his Iowa farm ground was still wet and clumpy. But as the two of us sat in his pick-up truck looking over his farm and dairy, Kevin told me he was eager to start his field work. He also said that even though there are many unknown factors that can, and most likely would, influence his and everyone else’s milk price – ethanol production, increasing demand for food in developing countries, skyrocketing fertilizer prices, etc. – there are also many opportunities. It was his attitude that the more volatility, the greater the opportunities for profit. What a positive attitude!
Kevin proudly showed me his newest barn, which was one of the most cow comfortable I’ve seen. There were few cows standing in his alleys. He said if his plans proceed on schedule he’ll build another barn just like it later this year. Despite adversity, he’s pressing forward.
I believe a quote posted in our office by one of my colleagues sums up the attitude we all need: “Don’t spoil the milk, when it could be cream.”
While this phrase is nothing new, it’s a good reminder for dairy producers, too. Stay involved, or even better, become more involved in our rapidly changing industry. PD