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Another change for the better

Progressive Dairyman Editor Dave Natzke Published on 10 June 2016

Historically, when I make a career change, dairy farmer milk prices go up. You can look it up.

When I moved from one Wisconsin weekly agricultural newspaper to another in 1989, the U.S. average milk price increased about $1.30 per hundredweight from 1988.

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When I became an editor of a national dairy magazine in 2001, the all-milk price jumped more than $2.50 per hundredweight from 2000.

Remember 2014, after I became editor of a different national dairy magazine? We set a new record-high U.S. average milk price. I should have retired on top.

Milk prices are getting off to a poor start in 2016, but if history repeats itself, 2017 should be a rebound year. I’m older and slower, so stay with me.

All self-promoting kidding aside, you’ve seen my mugshot and byline in various dairy publications for a couple of decades, through the ups and downs of milk prices. I cut my agricultural journalism teeth during the farm crisis of 1980, before many of you were born. I’ve been through a lot of three-year dairy price cycles.

Before this begins to read like my obituary, you’re now seeing my mugshot and byline in Progressive Dairyman. I’ve been blessed to join a company that has enjoyed monumental success by sticking to a business vision and working as a family, not unlike your dairy farm businesses. I’ll try not to screw it up.

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In a column similar to this written about 30 months ago, I wrote that each stop along my career path has provided different perspectives. At Progressive Dairyman, I’m easily the oldest member of the editorial team, which may place some value on my experience but may also call into question my ability to keep up.

Heck, I’m way older than Walt, who seemingly has been guiding this magazine forever. Most of the Progressive Dairyman editorial field staff (Jenna, Lora, Peggy, Emily and Karen) is made up of energetic and bright younger women, which at my age is never a bad thing.

Personally, it’s a really good place, invigorating and challenging. The editorial team structure is such that I have a fair amount of latitude to work in areas of experience and interest. In a different place, I get to learn a number of new things, while re-learning and un-learning others.

One other side benefit, I’ve been reunited with some members of the Progressive Dairyman marketing team whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with in the past.

And so, although I’m still a northeastern Wisconsin dairy farm boy at heart, my mugshot and byline have changed again, and thus, so has a piece of my identity.

Dairy’s identity is also changing. We’re a shrinking community, but at the same time we’re growing into nearly every corner of the world.

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From my perspective, whether it’s attending World Dairy Expo, World Ag Expo or any local, state, regional, national or international event, it doesn’t take long to realize dairy’s identity is still grounded in personal relationships.

I was reminded of that again last month, talking with New Zealand dairy farmers going through their own severe economic crisis. We remain a family linked by shared passions, values and ethics.

The dairy industry remains about us, with all our various perspectives. Thanks to Progressive Dairyman for allowing me to remain part of it.  PD

Dave Natzke
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