Have you ever been in the middle of a huge mess or fight with no exit door? But when you think about it, you're not exactly sure what got you into the chaos in the first place?

For those of us in agriculture, it sometimes feels like we're in one of those messes daily. I was reminded of this when reading the Miner Institute's monthly Farm Report. The Farm Report (read it at is a monthly magazine put together by the fine people at the William H. Miner Institute in Chazy, N.Y. In addition to covering events at the farm, new research, and area events, there are always some interesting pieces of advice or interesting notes from some of the staff.

This month, the interesting note that caught my eye was a quick summary of an article of the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch, dated February 10, 2011 on page A4. I will quote the Farm Report:

Preliminary data from a University of Miami study, presented at the recent International Stroke Conference:
Over a period of nine years and involving 2,500 adults over 40 years old, those who drank diet soda daily had a 48 percent higher risk of stroke or heart attack than people who drank no soda.

An editor of the Farm Report continued on by comparing this to what would happen if something like this was found about milk; front page headlines, "PETA in ecstasy, and 60 Minutes camping at the lead researcher's door." The editor also commented that this article was in a small box at the bottom of a much larger article.

Would you bet against that theory?

We have often talked to farmers who would rather ignore, for good reason, much of the background noise that takes place in the industry. This noise includes political debates of our future pricing plans and counter-cyclical defense measures, misleading animal rights organizations, and new environmental regulations that cost money and might not be that environmentally friendly in the first place.

If you paid any attention to the newspapers or the online world in the past few weeks, you may have noticed a renewed fight on the chocolate milk front. Another undercover animal abuse video (although this time the videographer evidently took part in the abuse) was also revealed.

How on earth did we get into these messes? More importantly, how do we get ourselves out? We need to be active in our communities, be good neighbors, and share the good news of dairy online, in schools, and anywhere else we have the opportunity. These tangles may not be totally our fault, but they are at least in part due to our negligence. If you need help or want to get involved, contact your local promotion agency, or check out http://www.dairyfarmingtoday.org/.

(To read more on the chocolate milk controversy check out the following articles:

General article about the controversy:

A Q&A about chocolate milk with a pro and con participant:

Article against chocolate milk:

Article for chocolate milk: