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0706 PD: To be, or not to be

Darren Olsen Published on 07 August 2006

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
.

I have always been a fan of great writing and literature. Words have a way of invoking great passion and power, infusing the soul to move beyond the mundane and empowering the mind to unleash action through the body. With that said, I would like to personally address three separate issues that have come to light from the May and June editions of Progressive Dairyman. Rarely before have our publications brought so many of our great readers to action.

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Point #1: We need to brush up on our geography.
In the June issue of Progressive Dairyman, we included a map of the United States, which detailed milk production throughout the country. Four of us reviewed that map, making sure the information about each state was correct. We double-checked facts and figures and, to our knowledge, the numbers are all correct.

The problem was in getting the right name on the right state. If you look closely at Mississippi and Alabama, they are reversed on the map. How four of us missed it, I have no idea. I can’t even blame it on the fact we have only lived in the West, as two of us have spent an extended amount of time in Florida and traveled throughout the southern states.

We offer our sincere apologies for the error. We have taken it upon ourselves to more carefully review all future map placement to ensure everyone ends up where they belong. We messed up on that one.

Point #2: Remember who you are and what you stand for.
This point stems from an article in the May Progressive Dairyman entitled ‘How consumers value organic milk.’ The conclusion started with this sentence, “This study shows that consumers receive a higher benefit from organic milk than from rBST-free milk, which is similar to organic milk but may contain pesticides and antibiotics.” The statement should have been corrected to read, “This study shows that consumers receive a higher benefit from organic milk than from rBST-free milk, which is similar to organic milk but may have been produced by cows exposed to pesticides and antibiotics.”

Since I am the go-to person for all of our publications, I will take the blame for this one. My apologies to everyone that produces milk. Since that is pretty much everyone that reads our publication, it’s a lot of apologies, but I am happy to say it to anyone who would like to hear.

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I can’t remember a time when something we have printed has caused such a stir. Since there is not space to print all the responses from those who called and sent me letters, I have included a ‘Letter to the editor’ from the United Dairymen of Idaho and a follow-up article which closely represent the feelings many of you expressed over this issue. They can be found on pages 52 and 53.

I do appreciate the time many of you took in calling out this error. It definitely helps keep me on my toes and always striving to be better. I firmly believe in this industry, its products and its ability to provide a good, honest living to the tens of thousands associated with milk production.

Point #3: Communication is a two-way road.
Also in May, we made our nationwide debut of El Lechero. It was, and will continue to be, inserted inside Progressive Dairyman, with subscriptions available for any producer who wishes to order additional copies for his or her Spanish-speaking employees.

While many of you have expressed your appreciation for this new tool, I have also received some letters and phone calls expressing utter contempt toward Progressive Dairy Publishing for producing a publication that does not encourage Hispanic workers to become part of American society. The perception is that by providing training in Spanish, we are supporting immigration and discouraging workers from learning English. However, this is not our intent.

The mission of El Lechero is to be an educational tool for producers and workers involved in the day-to-day operations of dairies across the United States. It also includes practical information about the culture of America and how people can work at becoming better acquainted with English and life in the United States.

El Lechero is a bilingual publication. It allows readers the opportunity to better understand the information presented while learning to communicate in a second language. First and foremost for us is the education of dairy employees to help them become more effective at what they do, which in turn improves the industry as a whole. I know of no other publication in the industry that does this and I appreciate our team that works diligently at producing this type of publication.

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My experience in bilingual work is very personal and direct. For two years, I gave up my family, friends and educational pursuits to help war-torn refugees which had been brought to the United States to assimilate into our country, language and culture. As a service missionary for my church, I was asked to do everything I could to help them rise to a level of self reliance and become better.

I learned their language, culture and customs in order to understand how to best help them here in the United States. Only by learning who they were was I able to make a difference in their lives and help them become active participants in the American way of life.

It is with this unique perspective that we, at Progressive Dairy Publishing, will continue to work at making El Lechero as effective as possible. We are excited about its possibilities and opportunities for making a difference in the dairy industry, just as our other publications have. We are passionate about our work and what it holds for the future.

As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments you have about any of the work we do. I will do my best to be available, as much as possible, to all our readers and advertisers. I am, of course, human and undoubtedly will continue to make mistakes. In fact, I guarantee it. But with it comes my word that we will continue to work at becoming better at what we do.

To be, or not to be? Yes, we will continue to be Progressive Dairy Publishing. PD

—Darren Olsen, Editor

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