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It just doesn’t matter (but really it does)

Progressive Dairyman Editor Dave Natzke Published on 29 June 2018

I tend to gravitate toward movies that delve into the “human condition,” those telling a story about individuals navigating through the challenges of life. No horror movies for me, science fiction either.

I fell asleep in the theater during almost every Lord of the Rings and Star Wars movie.



In a silly movie, but one of my favorites, Meatballs, Bill Murray stars as a counselor at a summer camp for middle- to lower-class families.

When coming up against the rich kids in a battle of camps in Olympic-style events, Murray attempts to cut through the tension felt by his athletes by starting a chant: “It just doesn’t matter; it just doesn’t matter.” It was a bit of reverse psychology to get his campers to relax and perform instead of worrying about the things they couldn’t control. You can guess who won the camp Olympics.

During a casual conversation at a farm show earlier this spring, someone asked me how long I had been in my chosen career. When I replied I was entering my 38th year, one of my co-editors noted she wasn’t even that old. It was one of those chance encounters that causes further reflection.

Starting in the land value crash of the 1980s, I’ve been a witness to several agricultural boom-and-bust cycles. Historically, and especially in the first half of 2018, when all the measurables point to anything but success for a vast majority of dairy farmers, it can lead to the very real feeling of “it just doesn’t matter.”

For that reason, this month I asked the Progressive Dairyman editorial advisers how they measured success, offering them an opportunity to respond both in terms of metrics and in a broader sense: What makes them smile when they put their heads on their pillows at night? Find their responses by reading "Editorial advisers: Measuring success". Their answers tell you why dairy farmers are a special breed.


Hey Google, what’s up with this stuff?

As a non-producer, the “dairy” running through my pipeline is information, and one of my collection units is attached to Google. Lately, I’ve been pretty disgusted with what’s showing up in the filter.

One of the latest Google alerts – apparently satire and including profanity but labeled as “news” – described how “Jeff Carr, president of the National Dairy Council” became physically ill at a press conference after being told where milk came from. (The president of the National Dairy Council is Jean-Ragalie-Carr.)

It sure seems like anyone who writes an anti-dairy blog gets attention, while important news just doesn’t matter.

RaboResearch report

It was in that setting I received a report from Rabobank titled “Dare Not to Dairy.” It’s the kind of headline anti-dairy bloggers and organizations have been latching onto, using snippets to further their agendas to prove dairy no longer matters. After reading the nine-page report, it didn’t paint a rosy picture for fluid milk, but it did suggest the dairy industry may have some things to learn from the nut and plant beverage industry. So I reached out to Rabobank with questions regarding the motives and implications behind the report. You’ll find Tom Bailey’s responses (Q & A: Dare not to dairy?).

Back to the movies

The dairy movie playing out in the first half of 2018 has been a struggle, especially for individual producers losing equity or their milk market entirely. This movie hasn’t had a happy ending for everyone. I’ve heard from and read about many who believe they no longer matter.

Since the only dairy running through my pipeline is information, I can’t pretend to share the depth of those struggles. But like our editorial advisers, sometimes I have to turn away from the “measurables” and spend some time with my children and grandchildren.


“It” matters. You matter. end mark

Dave Natzke
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