Current Progressive Dairyman digital edition

From the Editor

Read comments from Progressive Dairyman editors related to each print issue of the print magazine, ranging from the origin of specific magazine articles to thoughts about industry trends.


It’s a new year, and a new Progressive Dairyman magazine. You won’t recognize it until January 22, but this year you will receive an issue from us every three weeks. That’s 18 issues a year. Many have already asked, “Why the switch?”

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As the year ends, it brings a sense of closure for all that has transpired within the dairy industry during the past 12 months. We’ve seen higher than normal farm-gate milk prices coupled with record-breaking feed and fuel costs. Who would have ever thought corn would be more than $9 and wheat would be $4.50? And now diesel is $3.65 per gallon locally! What seems constant are the inconsistencies and the unexplained variables in the milk price/feed cost ratio.

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In fifth grade, I thought Atari computers were cool. Typing my report in green letters on a black screen and printing to a tractor feed printer seemed so advanced. My teachers said they were a blessing for students; they complained about typewriters.

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Recent events have reminded me that we all share one very interconnected dairy world. Take the latest milk production statistics, for example.

In August, milk production was up 3.6 percent over last August with more than 11,000 more cows milking than in July. The statistics don’t lie. Milk prices are up, and dairy producers can afford to keep cows in their herds longer. So what are some doing – adding cattle and/or planning for expansions. This month’s issue contains several articles that address preparing to grow or expand a dairy business.

Last month, Texas saw its own expansion as Hilmar Cheese’s new processing plant came online (see page 30). The open house and first shipments of milk into the facility have had more than just the locals talking for months. It will most likely still have the rest of the industry trying to gauge exactly how much the dairy industry in west Texas and its panhandle will continue to grow.

Also, these past few weeks I’ve been following with increasing interest news about the Social Security Administration’s plans to send out more than 140,000 letters informing employers that they are employing someone whose Social Security number doesn’t match the agency’s database. The plans are difficult to keep up with. What was supposed to be a mail date in September was postponed. (See page 4 for more details). It’s anyone’s guess how the plans will turn out now. By the time you receive your copy of this issue, the legality of the administration’s proposal may have changed again. If a court order against sending the letters is lifted, see page 14 for more information about how to protect yourself and do all that you can to retain your employees.

So with these and other issues (high feed prices, labor availability, etc.) still looming, there’s certainly not a dearth of things to talk about heading into World Dairy Expo and the fall trade show season.

I hope the market’s high milk prices will allow you to splurge for a day off the dairy to meet with other producers. Attendance at trade shows can most certainly relieve emotional stress as you talk about industry issues with others. But they are also a place to learn about (and drool over) new technology and equipment.

If you’re in Madison, stop by Booth #441 in the Arena Building. We’re giving away a free trip to see the other side of the dairying world – World Ag Expo in Tulare, California – in 2008. And if I don’t see you there, look for me outside the Badger Dairy Club’s tent, eating a grilled cheese sandwich. I’ve yet to find in this world a food made with dairy products that I like more than those sandwiches. PD

One can’t help but feel swells of alma mater pride looking at this issue. No matter your loyalties – whether they lie in Madison, Wisconsin, or State College, Pennsylvania, or elsewhere – this issue will recall college days gone by. It has for me.

There have even been a few late nights involved in the production of this issue. That wasn’t unlike my college days, yet I readily admit that I was a nerd and spent those late-night hours writing a term paper or finishing a last-minute project. If some of my old college friends knew how excited I was about a magazine issue that reviewed dairy and animal agriculture programs from around the U.S., they would still say I’m just as nerdy. But I don’t care. In 10 more years, they’ll be nearly bald and old, too.

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First of all, I would like to welcome to our publication 8,000 additional readers since we decided to include Ag Nutrient Management inside Progressive Dairyman magazine. With the continual changes and challenges that come with animal production, we felt it was best to get this tool in the hands of everyone we know who deal with livestock.

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