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Leaner, and now meaner

PD Editor Walt Cooley Published on 09 October 2012

This issue contains some articles I’ve specifically asked our editors or contributors to gather together. Here’s why I think they are relevant.

$12 corn –As corn prices rallied this summer due to the effects of drought, I asked Scott Stewart to write a follow-up to several articles he wrote a few years ago predicting conditions near those of the present. Click here to see his comments.

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DairyAmerica lawsuit –In what was the high-profile, modern beginning of real skepticism about milk pricing mechanisms, we revisit the lawsuit against two large American processors. If the case were a football game, it’d be just coming out of an official’s review timeout just before halftime.

While the game is long from over, why revisit this topic again now? The fact that there are spectators interested in tuning into the game at all is a milestone. One of the reasons why we have newly instituted electronic reporting systems as of this year is in part because of this storyline.

I’m not claiming that new institution is a final solution to still confusing and flawed pricing mechanisms. But it’s evidence that watchdogging the system works, albeit slowly. Click here to view.

Dairyman on CNN –What would you do if CNN came knocking on your door? Missouri dairy producer Stacey McCallister had just such an experience recently. Reading about his preparation for the interview and how it turned out was interesting. Click here to view.

Pinterest for dairy – Although not nearly as important as the emotional or financial implications of the three previously referenced stories, our recap of the use of Pinterest among farmers is noteworthy. I’ve been prodding my staff all summer to learn more about this emerging social network. If nothing else, by reading the recap you may find a new pinboard to follow. Click here to view.

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Finally, I recently read the following excerpt from Ray Dalio. Dalio is the founder of the investment firm Bridgewater Associates and got his start investing in commodity futures. Some have dubbed him the “Steve Jobs of investing.”

Given the challenges presented to dairy operations from this year’s drought, I thought Dalio’s comments on pain may be useful.

“It is a fundamental law of nature that to evolve one has to push one’s limits, which is painful, in order to gain strength –whether it’s in the form of lifting weights, facing problems head-on or in any other way. Nature gave us pain as a messaging device to tell us that we are approaching, or that we have exceeded, our limits in some way. When we encounter pain, we are at an important juncture in our decision-making process.

“Most people react to pain badly. They have ‘fight or flight’ reactions to it: they either strike out at whatever brought them the pain or they try to run away from it. As a result, they don’t learn to find ways around their barriers, so they encounter them over and over again and make little or no progress toward what they want.”

While the drought and its effects are an unwanted barrier and causing many mucsh pain, I believe dairymen can fight through it and become better from it. I’m not suggesting that the fight this time solely come from cost-cutting on individual operations. But maybe it means collectively taking already lean, and now mean, businesses up against some of the industry’s toughest institutional challenges. PD

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Walt Cooley
Editor
Progressive Dairyman magazine

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