Someone recently asked me what the pulse of the dairy industry was. My answer: Paused.

Most in 2009 just tried to survive each day and week. Few strategized for the future; the now was more important. The dairy industry still isn’t sitting on the beach taking a breather. It’s more like bent over panting after sprinting to chase a runaway child or grandchild in the road. However, now that the present isn’t spent straining for survival most are trying to decide what to do with a few extra moments of mental energy and time. How will you spend them differently in 2010?

I recently spoke with a producer at length about how things were going for him. Luckily we were able to chat away from his operation. He was thinking about what to do next for his business. This large-herd Midwestern dairyman admitted that last year he’d changed as a person. One of the tale-tell signs for him was the reaction of his employees. No one spoke up then, but they’ve since told him that he just wasn’t himself. He didn’t say hello to them each day, as he’d done before. They understood things were difficult and played along. But they missed the old boss. He told me he wanted to give that back to them in 2010.

The economy has also been tough for your employees too. In our companion magazine, El Lechero , we show how remittances sent back to Mexico have been declining. At least half of your workers are sending less back home to their families. (Please note that this is the first issue of El Lechero that is not inserted into your copy of this magazine. The magazine is now printed on glossy paper and mailed separately but is still the same valuable resource for your employees.)

Give them a pick-me-up and begin revisiting the break room to drop off your requested copies of the magazine. If you’ve stopped receiving El Lechero , click here for a free subscription request.


A common thread among producers I’ve talked to is that they want to take some time for their health and family. Have you drawn out equity from those assets this past year? Perhaps it is time to reinvest.

One reader wrote and asked for an article on staying focused on family. She said in her note: “Times are tough, and our guys are coming home each day in foul moods. We need tips on how to stay positive in negative times, with hints on how to explain to the kiddos that Dadis stressed.” You can find that article here . We hope it helps.

Also, in this issue, you will find lots of articles to keep you focused on production management as we head into the growing season and peak milk flow. Check out the forecast for margin management and how (or if) to change your calf feeding program now that the FDA will not allow stronger doses of antibiotic-medicated milk replacer. See if soil testing to determine if you’ve depreciated your soil’s fertility could improve your profitability in 2010. Take a look at what the impact of mycotoxins may be from 2009 silage and how to manage contaminated rations .

Thanks to the many who responded to our poll about supply management. We’ve printed more of your responses in this issue.

Take a deep breath and spend a few moments with those you’ve missed most last year. PD