As I’ve noted before in this column, each February marks an anniversary in my career as an agricultural/dairy journalist. This February starts the 43rd year in my profession and the seventh year with
Natzke dave
Editor / Progressive Dairy
Progressive Dairy.

In what has become an annual tradition to start each new year, Progressive Dairy has attempted to capture and communicate the “state of dairy,” combining empirical data and emotion-based feedback.

FMMO

This year, I contacted about 80 people from throughout the U.S., mostly via e-mail, with questions regarding the general moods among dairy producers and other industry stakeholders within their region or organization. I asked them to identify specific issues creating both optimism and concern. I inquired about financial health and, this year, asked about the balance between regional milk supply-processing capacity and about Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) reform.

My initial goal was to divide the country into neighborhoods of about 1 million cows each. In many cases, that worked; in others, it wasn’t practical. I heard back from people representing all regions and all but a few states. You’ll see some blurring of the borders and commonality in the observations (See “2022 state of dairy: A melding of moods and concerns,”).

“Cautious optimism” has been a familiar theme in these annual summaries in recent years. In both 2020 and 2021, caution quickly gathered more momentum as pandemic-related factors gained a foothold in both the psyche and financial well-being of dairy producers.

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At least early in 2022, the thumb of optimism seems to be slightly heavier on the scale. “Ifs” and “buts” are plentiful, however, especially related to input costs.

Contributing to this year’s overview is an article authored by Aidan Connolly. In the feature (“InFocus: Will 2022 be the best year for dairy in over a decade?”), Connolly looks at potential profitability profiles by region and herd size. I should note I didn’t see the data prior to putting together the “state of dairy” section, so I’m not sure if there’s agreement or conflict regarding regional mood and financial outlook.

As I’m reminded every year about this time, the status of dairy is really about the states of the hearts and minds of the people who make up the industry, no matter the geography. If you are from an area I missed, we’ll get you next year. Email me with your thoughts anytime. end mark

Dave Natzke