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Be the change you want to see in the dairy industry

Krista Stauffer for Progressive Dairyman Published on 12 October 2018

It's no secret that the past year has been devastating for our entire industry. As farms continue to sell out, those of us left standing can't help but wonder when we will be next.

Folks are worried, scared and flat out pissed off at the current state of our industry. Many are in survival mode, while others are just hanging on a little bit longer in hopes that cull cow prices will go up so they can sell the herd.

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It's a complete disaster.

If you join any groups online, you will see farmers sharing their story of heartbreak, stress and worry, or you will see farmers tearing each other apart for how they farm.

The “my way of farming is the only way” mentality isn't something new among farmers. It's always been this way. The only difference now is we have social media. Instead of talking about how crappy of a farmer Joe is at the local coffee shop because he doesn't do “this” or he does “that,” how he can't fill a milk truck tank or he doesn't milk his own cows – now we can broadcast it all over the internet.

I'm not sure about you, but I honestly don't have time to worry about who fills a truck or who doesn't milk their own cows. To be honest, I do not care as long as their cows are well cared for. What I do care about is constantly improving what we do on our farm – being better than we were the day before and keeping the truck coming.

Why in the world is everyone so concerned about what is happening on their neighbor’s farm? Why does it matter if he milks his own cows or not? Why should you care if she works on the farm or “just” raises babies? What does any of this have to do with your farm and the job you do as a farmer?

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Even more so, why does everyone feel the need to broadcast their opinions of others all over the internet? Why do you feel the need to attack someone because they do things differently than you?

Every single thing that is said negatively about your fellow farmer online – whether it's because you are just having a bad day and need someone to lash out at or you are trying to sell your milk over someone's else's milk – it negatively impacts our entire industry.

At a time when everyone is hurting, a time when we need to earn consumer trust and a time when folks are seeking out how their food is grown or raised, we need to stand united. We need to support each other despite our differences. We need to show people that we are the hard-working and caring individuals many people still think farmers are.

So please, take all that negative energy and use it to do some good. Be the change you want to see in our industry. Not sure what to do? Here are some ideas:

  • Contact your representatives about issues such as milk labeling, trade, etc. – anything you think needs to be addressed. Make your voice heard.

  • Contact your co-op about any issues you have with them. Instead of putting it all over the internet, write a letter or email to them. Maybe nothing will change, but you got it off your chest, and it didn't show up for your customers to see.

  • Write a letter to the editor of the local paper about your farm and its history.

  • Getting ready for fall manure pumping? Write a note and make a gift bag with smelly-good stuff for your closest neighbors.

  • Working fields and mucking up the roads? Clean it off the best you can or do something nice for your neighbors. A fellow farmer posted recently online that they bought car wash gift cards for their neighbors. What an amazing idea.

  • Have an issue with a fellow farmer? Address it with them. If you can say it online, you should be able to say it face-to-face.

  • Upset about the negative posts about dairy? Create positive posts about your family and farm.

Most people will never step foot on a farm. They will only see what they see online or as they drive by. Clean up your social footprint and the view they see as they drive by your farm. Our farm is far from pretty, but we constantly get comments on how clean we keep it. People pay attention to that sort of thing and associate it to the milk they buy.

Take all that anger, hurt and negativity, and use it to make a difference. Be the change.  end mark

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Krista Stauffer
  • Krista Stauffer

  • Dairy Producer
  • Washington
  • Email Krista Stauffer

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