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Progressive Dairyman Editor Emily Caldwell Published on 11 March 2015

It’s become a bit of a tradition for our annual “State of the industry” issue to feature an illustration. I say “a bit” because our 2014 cover used photography, but the three years prior all featured creations by our talented design team.

In this year’s illustration, designed by Corey Lewis, we wanted to depict a dairyman getting a bird’s-eye view of his operation. If you’ve been following milk price predictions in our magazine, you know the experts are anticipating a year of financial instability.

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While no one is calling for a year like 2009, advisers are still recommending that producers rein in the spending they may have done in 2014, take a look at where they are financially and make a plan to remain profitable.

A real-life producer who exemplifies the concept of having a handle on what’s happening across the entire operation is Indiana dairyman Brian Houin. Click here to read about his farm’s adoption of monitoring tools and new technologies.

He’s able to pull reports and provide the statistics on any given area of his farm. As if that weren’t enough, he developed his own spreadsheet, where he compiles some of the highlights from each monitoring system. His file is color-coded and zeros in on areas he considers poor performance in his benchmarking parameters.

You’ll notice that the farmer on the cover has a “techy” look to him, with the iPad in his hands and the Bluetooth headset on his ear. We thought about including another example of wearable technology like Google Glass, but as you’ll read here, Google’s next big thing is going back to the drawing board.

Not all technology products are meant for mainstream adaption, and likely even fewer will take a quick hold in the dairy industry. One area that does seem to be emerging is cloud-based data storage for dairy management records.

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Click here to find out how the Vierra Dairy Farm in California trusts the cloud to hold its data, enabling off-site owners to monitor the farm and employees to compare their stats month to month.

If you find yourself leery of implementing these new technologies, the next hire or promotion on your farm may need to be a millennial.

While the term may apply to a broad range in ages from 15 to 32, the millennial you’ll want to add to your team will have an inherent ability to learn new technology, apply it on the farm and involve your group in making it useful. Click here to learn about the other potential pros and cons of hiring millennials.

For a national perspective of dairy industry trends, pull out the dairy stats poster inserted in the center of this issue. Favorable milk prices led to increased cow numbers and fewer operations exiting the business. One couple who did sell their dairy herd is featured here. See what their farm’s picture looks like without cows, and hear their advice for making that decision.

For a look at consumer trends, click here. It’s hard to believe we’d be thanking mainstream media for anything related to agriculture, but several high-profile articles in 2014 promoting consumption of “real fats” has encouraged consumers to embrace full-fat dairy products. Yogurt, particularly Greek, is expected to continue to be a growing category. See the infographic here for more proof.

We hope this issue provides you with the tools you need to assess a snapshot of your operation, identify areas to improve and implement new ideas to keep your business productive and profitable. PD

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emily caldwell

Emily Caldwell
East Coast Editor
Progressive Dairyman

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