Nov. 29 2019 08:00 AM

It’s tough, but don’t lose sight of the community, pride, and heart that dairy farmers exert each day.

Has there been too much negative talk about the current state of the dairy industry? Some might think so – especially this week when we’re supposed to express what we’re thankful for.

Obviously, as a college student, I’m in no position to truly understand what it must be like to be a dairy farmer at Thanksgiving. However, I have had time to reflect upon what so many people who I know might be experiencing this time of year. Despite it being a hard pill to swallow, I think the following sums up what we can be grateful for this year.

The community of agriculture is undoubtedly one that continues to connect and embrace, but have you ever noticed just how special the dairy community is? Whether it’s a Facebook page, a group like Dairy Girl Network, or simply farmers helping other farmers, it’s truly extraordinary to see what we’re all about. For example, when a natural disaster strikes a farm, the dairy community steps in to provide housing for those animals or any other extra steps of relief. Producers from miles away chip in and send extra feed they might have. That’s community.

On a different sense of community, Jessica Peters, Pennsylvania dairy farmer and Hoard’s Dairyman blogger, continues to share secrets she has received in order to break the stigmas in our industry. That’s what we’re about. We’re about bridging gaps and intertwining our passions for the greater good. This is about starting necessary conversations within our dairy community for years to come.

I talked about Facebook groups just a few sentences ago. Maybe it’s just me, and I’m sure they exist, but I’ve never seen a group of people on social media who solely communicate about the plant-based beverage industry. Why? Because we know our dairy products are the real deal! If that’s not something to have pride about, I don’t know what is.

Dairy farmers know what they’re producing and they know what goes into it. We deserve our own sense of pride knowing we are centered around nature’s most nearly perfect food.

I’m no doctor, but if I had to guess, I would put money on it that the heart of a dairy farmer is probably larger than most others. After all, I think it has to be. In what other world would you volunteer for small quantities of sleep just to wake up and keep doing something you’re passionate about?

Why else would a dairy farmer put so much effort into a cow that he or she knows they’re most likely going to lose anyway? Or spend money they don’t necessarily have to fight for that calf? This is the side of the industry our competitors don’t want anyone to see. Show them your heart.

My parents always taught me to be gracious year-round, but it’s easy to forget. I lose sight of graciousness all the time! I’m going to get better at it, though. I challenge each person who reads this to find at least one thing you’re grateful for each day. You might be surprised what it can do for you.

Sarah Thomas

Sarah Thomas grew up in Pittsboro, N.C., showing and raising dairy heifers. Thomas attends Virginia Tech, majoring in dairy science with minors in agricultural economics, communication, and Spanish. On campus, she’s involved with Dairy Club, Sigma Alpha, and has been a member of the Virginia Tech dairy judging team. Thomas was the 2019 Hoard’s Dairyman summer editorial intern.