Jan. 25 2018 08:00 AM

    As farmers, we can “forget everything and run” or “face everything and rise.”

    This quote – F.E.A.R.: Forget Everything and Run or Face Everything and Rise – was the quote of the week on our office memo board. Each week someone writes a Bible verse, a quote they like, or just a challenging thought they had on our dry-erase board.

    The F.E.A.R. quote is something I thought about while our family discussed the Class I mover price. What steps would we take as a family farm to survive the projected milk prices? Furthermore, what, if anything, can all the dairy farmers do to stop this devastating cycle of low prices? Ideas including quotas, base/excess, and co-ops penalizing for additional milk are all being discussed. As an industry we face declining fluid sales, challenges with consumer confidence, and labor shortages.

    Yes, we have serious challenges ahead. It will take leadership, cooperation, innovation, and perspiration to survive and then thrive. Steps our family is considering include robotics to reduce the amount of labor required and herd reduction to eliminate the need for rented cropland. We are using social media to share our positive message with our neighbors and consumers. We are also considering agritourism to complement our switch to robotics.

    Consider what your farm can do to help. Bring new ideas and leadership where you can to your co-op and the dairy industry. Share your family farm’s message with your community, local schools, and governmental leaders whenever possible. Join your local Chamber of Commerce, serve on your town’s tourism board, speak at a civic club meeting, or talk about dairy life on a local radio show.

    I have a daughter and a nephew who have decided to return home to dairy. I want them to succeed. They want to operate our family farm and to prosper at it. We have to step up together, innovate, and share our message. It is time for dairy farmers to “Face Everything and Rise”.

    Caitlin and Mark Rodgers

    Mark and Caitlin Rodgers are dairy farmers in Dearing, Georgia. Their “Father and Daughter Dairy Together” column appears every other Thursday on HD Notebook. The Rodgers have a 400-cow dairy that averages 32,000 pounds of milk. Follow their family farm on Facebook at Hillcrest Farms Inc.