This week we said good riddance to 2018 and welcomed a new year. Are you excited? Because honestly, I’m still on the fence. The last year was pretty awful for the dairy industry. Low prices, high costs, and a bottomed-out beef market led the industry to a place we’ve never been before.
Many dairies sold out in 2018, and the farms that are left can barely afford to be so. A month ago, I sent a cow to the auction and received a check back for $14.00. That’s a brand new low. It’s not a reach to say that we’re all hoping for a better 2019.
The scariest part of 2018 was the shift we saw from helping farmers save or make more money to helping farmers cope with the stress and mental strain that this situation has put on us. We can no longer afford to not talk about it; we can’t lose one more person.
So, you know what? It’s time for us, as dairy farmers, to make a commitment to 2019. A commitment to push the boundaries of what we know and already do. I think this next year will be more about what we do off the farm than on the farm. Obviously, we’ll all keep striving for better cow care and overall farm efficiency, but it’s time we all took a more pointed role in explaining that to our customers.
We need to start asking our processors and co-ops, why? Why are we here and how do we work together to fix it? We need to ask agriculture companies what they’re doing to help us? Are they advertising to us or to consumers? Why not both?
I’ve never been big on resolutions. They’re the kind of thing you work at for a month then abandon, except for the example of "Veganuary" where people try veganism as a resolution. I can get behind breaking that one.
Instead of making a resolution this year I’m making a promise to push myself out of my comfort zone. Someone once told me that if an idea doesn’t scare you it’s not big enough. Making my first big video scared me. Writing a children’s book scared me. Being asked to speak at a national conference really, super scares me. But not spending January 1, 2020, in the parlor with my girls scares me even more.
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.