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What state are you in?

Progressive Dairy Editor Dave Natzke Published on 15 March 2021

Although you’re getting this magazine in your mailbox in early to mid-March, most of the writing, editing, design and production had to be done in early to mid-February.

For the print version of the magazine, our production cycle falls about three weeks before delivery – it’s aged much longer than cheese curds but slightly shorter than most cheddar blocks marketed on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

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So for the issue of the magazine in your hands, the production cycle started just after Groundhog Day, the date when usually practical people turn to large rodents to serve as weather forecasters in search of the state of spring.

Unlike many people who make New Year’s resolutions, February is also the time I poke my head out of another Wisconsin winter and take stock of things. It’s my anniversary: I started my agricultural journalism career during the first week of February in 1980. And, by coincidence of calendar, almost every turn in my career path has occurred in the second month of the year, including joining Progressive Dairy in early February of 2016.

So this February I started the 42nd year in my profession and the sixth year with Progressive Dairy (both wise choices, I think).

A few years ago, we started a “State of Dairy” editorial package, an annual flyover to check the landscape of major dairy regions of the U.S. The timing falls a suitable period after reviewing the past year while providing adequate time to form an outlook of things to come.

Throughout my career, I’ve been a “facts” person, probably too often focusing on numbers and trends. For me, they’re fun to track and important to monitor. However, this time of year especially, I’m reminded that the status of an industry is really about the states of the hearts and minds of the people who make up that industry.

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By any standard, 2020 was a year of trial. As a result, “cautious” was the overwhelming response I received when asking dairy people how they were feeling entering 2021. That collective response wasn’t so much a negative but rather one of concern regarding so many things that are uncertain, as you’ll read starting “State of Dairy”.

As always, my “travel” plans came up a little short of my goals when it comes to getting insights from everywhere. If you are from an area I missed, we’ll get you next year. Email me with your thoughts anytime.

As we move further into 2021, I come with barn cap in hand and humbled by the fact you still welcome me into your farm office or kitchen (or bathroom) on a regular basis. Hopefully we’ll get to see each other in person a little more frequently in the year ahead.

Cautiously, of course. end mark

Dave Natzke
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