February is one of my all-time favorite months of the year. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. While some people portray this holiday as manufactured and capitalized, I prefer to think of it as an excuse to celebrate the people you love, in whatever way you see fit. Additionally, it’s a time for us to celebrate #Februdairy!
Now, you might find yourself saying, “Why would we celebrate dairy this month? We already have June as the national dairy month, and July as national ice cream month, and a completely separate national milk day.”
I get it. Most of us don’t think we have the time to celebrate and share what we do. Sometimes those winter days are not as glamorous as the sunny summer days that seem perfect for Facebook or Instagram. Here’s my rebuttal:
The combination of Valentine’s Day and #Februdairy is no coincidence. Valentine’s Day, as I previously mentioned, is a day dedicated to the people you love. Normally we narrow that definition to significant others and family members. But why not broaden the reach? The dairy industry is made up of people, a fact that is often forgotten by the activists and trolls who are currently swarming the hashtag.
Over the past couple of months, I have written a Young Dairymen series about people finding their place in the dairy industry. A question I always asked these individuals is, “Why did you come back to dairy; what drew you back to this industry?” The answer was the same across all of the interviews: “The people.”
So, I decided to ask some others what they love about the dairy industry, and what #Februdairy means to them in order to help show the dairy industry some love. Here’s what they said:
“The dairy industry has taught me passion, work ethic, love, and pride that has only grown since I raised my first calf at eight years old. Beyond my small herd, the industry has allowed me to travel across the country giving speeches, competing in dairy bowl, judging, and jeopardy, and forming an all-important network and understanding between other people in the industry. It led me to my undergraduate degree, which opened up even more opportunities. Not only did I grow under the umbrella of the industry, but I credit almost everything I know and who I am to the people, cows, and experiences I have encountered for leading me to exactly where I am today. I will be forever grateful for every single aspect.”
“#Februdairy is a time of connection. It’s a time where I and so many others get to show consumers how much we love our animals. It’s a time to show that farmers are humans, too. As a newcomer to the dairy industry, I got involved for the cows. Not the people, the equipment, or the shows. It was purely for the cows. My favorite part of working for a farm is working toward higher comfort and care for the animals. The people that came along with that responsibility were an added bonus.”
“#Februdairy is about being a part of something bigger. Not only do I get to do something I love, but I get to keep cows healthy and comfortable while feeding the world, and having this huge impact on everything around me, including conservation. I can do this all while working with dedicated, passionate, resilient, hardworking people. It’s a wonderful feeling to be a part of something my family has worked so hard at, and I love carrying on that tradition. Dairy is more than a college major or a job; it’s a big part of my joy in life. To sum it up, dairy means everything to me. I’ve built my life off of this small passion I had, and now I live a life surrounded by dairy. It’s important that people see and understand how much this industry means to us, and #Februdairy is a great way to do that.”
“As someone who wasn’t always a dairy farmer and was at one point just a consumer trying to buy the right milk from the grocery store, I think that building unique connections with consumers through a celebration of love for the dairy industry is truly invaluable.”
“Being involved with the dairy industry means that I get to not only spend my time doing something I love, with animals that I love, but doing so helps the world. Putting everything I have into taking care of cows is the most rewarding thing I could ever hope to do.”
We all love the dairy industry and the people that envelope it for different reasons and in different ways. Consider this your call to action. Share three reasons why you love the dairy industry and use the hashtag #Februdairy. It doesn’t have to be lengthy or poetic; it just has to be genuine. The dairy industry has changed my life and the lives of so many others around me. As a whole, its members deserve some love this Valentine’s Day.
Abbie Cox grew up in Cato, N.Y., on a first-generation dairy farm and currently attends Cornell University as a member of the class of 2021, majoring in animal science with a minor in education and a focus in dairy. On campus, she is involved with the Cornell University Dairy Science Club, Sigma Alpha, Collegiate Farm Bureau, and is a Peer Adviser with CALS Student Services. Cox has interned with the MILC group, the Animal Agriculture Alliance, and was the 2020 Hoard’s Dairyman summer editorial intern.