For most of us, the thought of losing our way of life is the farthest thing from our mind. But for the majority of American dairy farmers, that’s a huge reality. The dairy industry is suffering a devastating economic shift that’s forcing some to throw in the towel. As fellow animal agriculturists, it’s critical that we understand the situation, support them however we can, and do our best to prevent the situation in our respective industries.
Whenever an entire industry goes through any economic shift, especially as significant as this one, there are several factors that play a role. The most significant typically is supply and demand. We have done such a fantastic job breeding these cows to produce more milk than they ever have before, while supply has been slipping. Demand has been slipping for a variety of reasons that all lead to the fact that consumers are changing their purchases; new fad diets are anti-dairy, lactose intolerance has risen, and there are so many dairy alternatives at the supermarket. If you’re on Facebook, Dairy Carrie is a great person to follow to keep up on what’s happening.
Once you understand that there’s a huge surplus of milk and the consumers aren’t fully informed, you can start to take action to support them. For me, this means paying attention while I’m at the supermarket and choosing real butter over vegetable oil spread or buying a gallon of milk instead of a half-gallon. If we all made these changes, it would make a huge difference. Another small action that has made a big impact is sharing posts on Facebook. I’ve had several people ask me about these issues due to sharing posts from specific dairy farmers, industry statistics, etc. that makes people think.
Because the dairy industry is a part of the livestock production family, it’s important that we take note of the situation to help prevent that from happening in our respective species. When we look towards the future, we need to use both the past and present in order to be successful. Learning from past successes and failures, economic trends, and social shifts will help us operate as an industry.
Whether you show livestock or thrive in the commercial setting, you make unbreakable friendships. Those bonds turn into family and a huge community across the nation. When we see our community suffer, we need to band together to support each other and help benefit everyone.
Greg Kirlin resides on his family farming operation in west-central Illinois and is a Feed Sales Representative and Marketing Specialist for a local feed & grain company, Dearwester Grain Services. He uses his passion for livestock production to help local producers reach their goals in both commercial and show stock settings. His brother and he both have a passion for raising and exhibiting purebred Simmental cattle.
Greg lives by a quote from Grant Cardone which states “Your greatness is limited only by the investments you make in yourself.” Keeping this quote close, Greg lives each day reaching for success and working towards goals set daily. He hopes to challenge readers to create their own success through passion, determination, and hard work.