We all know that February through April is widely known as meeting season for most farmers. The business of the holiday season is over, but we’re not yet able to get in the fields. It’s the only span of time that you’re going to get us off the farm and into a conference room. Of course, free donuts and/or lunch don’t hurt.Aside from the free food, there are many of reasons to attend meetings. Sometimes, they cover new technologies you’re hoping to implement on your dairy. Other times, they are a workshop about how to feed your calves to get more milk out of them when they mature. Perhaps you should attend a meeting because you need the credits to keep your pesticide license current. For the last few years, I’ve noticed a few recurring themes in meeting topics that have reflected the signs of the times: growing financial awareness (how to treat your farm more like a business) and risk management. Basically, it’s getting harder to make money in dairy farming, and we need to learn more about being businessmen instead of farmers. I can’t help but feel that maybe it’s too late. As a third farm in my area sells out since the beginning of the year, I can’t help but feel a little hopeless. Even the farmers I know who have always had hope have lately been doubting their future. I know that these meetings are meant to help. They’re meant to show us that maybe it’s not hopeless, these companies are trying to give us tools to better our situation. But most days, it feels less depressing to stay home and hide.
The author dairies in partnership with her parents and brother at Spruce Row Farm in Pennsylvania. Jessica is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, and since 2015, she has been active in promoting dairy in her local community. You can find her and her 250 Jersey cows on Facebook at Spruce Row Dairy or on Instagram at @seejessfarm.