Many factors carrying over from 2022 will undoubtedly influence your dairy in 2023. Whether it’s a tight labor market and quality of life issues driving your willingness to explore and implement automation, crop production and feed sources affecting rations and costs, higher interest rates leveraging changes in short-term operations and long-term investment, or environmental regulations impacting everything from feed ingredients to manure management, the list is lengthy. Off the farm, a lot of talk during 2022 might actually yield federal policy action in the year ahead, with all signs pointing to paths that include both the 2023 Farm Bill and the Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) system.
For Progressive Dairy, 2022 brought the addition of new staff, a new website and new strategy to distribute information and connect with you, our readers. Speaking for my co-workers, our individual and collective editorial goals for 2023 remain in line with that of company founder Leon Leavitt when he first launched Progressive Dairyman in March of 1987: We will strive to share the ideas, tools and practices that help engage dairy producers and empower them to improve their businesses and lives.
Influence, of course, begins with people. Late last summer, after years of my own procrastination, I suggested we extend an invitation to readers to identify the people who have been the greatest “influencers” in and on dairy. My thought wasn’t to create another awards program, with judging based on point totals using objective measures, but rather to provide an opportunity for readers to recognize those people who helped shape their lives, careers and dairy farms, as well as the dairy industry as a whole.
Over the course of a couple of months, we received about 45 nominations. Due to space, we’ve selected 25 whose descriptions vividly described their knowledge, action and passion that provided and/or continues to influence dairy people and issues (read Meet the influential people in dairy).
Obviously, there are many other influencers not mentioned. It’s our first year of trying something new, and something to build on.
Whether we repeat the project again next year is unknown. Regardless, I’d urge you to reach out to the people who have been most influential in your life. Whether via email, card, phone call or face-to-face communication, let them know how influential they have been to you. After a raucous 2022, we can all use a little kindness.
When assessing last year in a recent email, Paul Johnson, president of the U.S. Agricultural Coalition for Cuba, opened with a quote from American humorist Art Buchwald: “Whether it’s the best of times or the worst of times, it’s the only time we got.”
While Johnson was summarizing the economic and political situation in Cuba and its impact on potential agricultural relationships with the U.S., Buchwald’s statement returns us to the opening line of Charles Dickens’ historical novel, A Tale of Two Cities, written in 1859: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness …”
In times like this, we can all use some positive influence in 2023. More often than not, it begins with us.