I’ve been fortunate to grow up in the cow business. From the time I was young, I traveled with a professional cattle photographer to all parts of the country, showed cattle across North America and attended hundreds of sales, as my father was a sale manager. These experiences introduced me to many people in agriculture who, to this day, I call friends. In more recent years, the experiences that I share with youth from coast to coast have broadened my friend and family circle even more. I am sure that if my truck broke down, I could find a connection to someone who knows someone who could help me out. Our dairy industry is a small world.
Acquaintances in the agriculture world are important. As social media connects us more and more, our list of “friends'' grows. Social media connects agriculture and the public, and it is our role to create a unified voice. Whether you milk 80 cows in a tiestall or 500 in a rotary parlor with a freestall barn, you both produce milk. Whether your product is organic or conventional, you both produce milk. Whether you are in the cheese business, the fluid milk sector or make ice cream, you all produce dairy products. Whether you have deep-pedigreed, high-type cattle or a herd of cattle bred simply for function and high production, you’re in the cattle business.
As agriculturists, whether you grow organic crops, hay, corn, wheat, barley or soybeans, you all grow feed and food for the table. I would even go so far as to say that an almond grower joins us in the field of agriculture, along with the person who grows oats for oat beverages and the coconuts to flavor the coconut beverage.
In this small and very powerful field of agriculture, and specifically the dairy business, I challenge you to support, lift up and take care of each other. Build relationships with each and every person you know who cares for the land and for their livestock. Unite when you speak with politicians and the public; hear what others have to say in a boardroom.
Here’s a big one: When you post on social media, keep it positive. Those of us in agriculture, no matter where we are or what we produce, are all in this together. There is no occasion that we need to pull another down – we have a hard enough time with the general public – let’s work to create a united message that we support food production on our farms.
In the business of producing food, we don’t have the luxury of simple growth. Every turn in the road presents an obstacle for our future. We do, however, have the opportunity to work together, to have a united voice, to look to the future with each other. Let’s build together so agriculture remains that mighty force that feeds the world.
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