A few weeks ago, I traveled abroad, and then just last week I returned from World Dairy Expo. While I have had both personal and professional opportunities to travel, I want to note that I am not plane hopping all the time. I am incredibly thankful for these opportunities and recognize what a privilege it is to experience life beyond my home. I do not take them for granted.
The reason I mention this recent travel is that it hit me like a wake-up call. I had become so comfortable with just focusing on what is directly affecting my life. Perhaps “complacent” is the better description. I do not ignore the news, but I do try to limit my time reading clickbait headlines and sensationalized media.
There are certainly times when focusing on what we can control, even though it may be very limited and local in scope, is the best way to handle our responsibilities. I often use this tactic to ignore the“noise” However, I do not think it always serves us best.
Fuel pricing, grain pricing, energy pricing, and dairy pricing — they are all affected on a global scale. While we cannot change what is happening on the other side of the world, it is worthwhile to take note of what is and is not working. Europe is battling an energy crisis. Is California approaching something similar? Could power be shut off to dairies or bottling plants? These were questions raised at the Global Dairy Symposium during World Dairy Expo this year. It is thought provoking and a bit jarring, too, to realize how close these issues are to our industry.
Similarly, when I was in Warsaw, Poland, in early September, people of various nationalities who operate their businesses on a global scale surrounded me. Everyone spoke multiple languages fluently. Being able to communicate is so important socially, culturally, and professionally. I always thought I would like my children to speak multiple languages because no matter their academic performance, it would be a skill setting them up for success. I have been living in my bubble, though, and have not made strides toward that goal. I need to do better. The Global Dairy Symposium highlighted the importance of language, too, in effectively navigating issues critical to dairy.
Getting off our farm or out of our comfort zone provides insight into new or different strategies that can improve our operations. It can improve our spirit, too. For me, being surrounded by the folks at Expo this year gave me renewed motivation and encouragement for dairy around the world. Our industry is exactly where I want to be.
Erin Massey is the product development manager at Prairie Farms, a farmer-owned cooperative based in Edwardsville, Illinois. She is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the development process, from concept to commercialization. Erin grew up on a Florida dairy farm and has a deep-rooted passion to invigorate the dairy industry. Erin earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of South Florida. Her personal mantra is "Be Bold."