Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year, New Challenges, New Opportunities

Close the book on 2009 and say hello to 2010!

If you ever took notice of the dairy industry this past year, I'm sure you know that it has been quite a rough one for farmers. Really rough! Read some of my blog entries from 2009 and you'll begin to understand what I mean. But, that year is gone and 2010 is sure to present us with both challenges and opportunities.

For dairy farmers, we're still left with the question of how to end...or at least manage...the price volatility cycles that seem to get more extreme and severe every few years. Many different plans for doing so were discussed over the past year and continue to be debated among dairy farmers. None of these plans are perfect or will satisfy every dairyman, but we're smart enough to realize that a "perfect plan" is unrealistic given the vast regional differences in our production and markets. As our milk price continues to improve as it has for the last couple of months, it will be critical that our dairy farmer leaders keep working towards crafting an acceptable plan so we can minimize the next inevitable downturn.

Focusing more on our farm, we also face some early challenges to begin the year. A wet fall meant a short harvest, which means we've had to buy more commercial feed and may also have to buy forages from other farmers by the time our own spring forages are ready to harvest. Buying feed and forages is expensive, and coming off a year like 2009 it really handicaps you from being able to attend to other projects. There will be other challenges as well, ranging from the weather to the costly impact potential legislation and regulations would have on our farm and every farm.

But with challenge comes opportunity, and that gives us hope for a better year even if our recovery process may seem slow and painful at times. From experimenting with rotational grazing to planting new varieties of silage crops, from more effectively telling our farm's story to to laying the groundwork for possibly one day processing and marketing our own milk and dairy products, the future is bright for Gilmer Dairy Farm. My family's been milking cows in Lamar County, Alabama, for over 55 years, and with hard work and a little luck that streak won't be coming to an end anytime soon!

Have a Happy New Year, everyone! I'll leave you with our final GDF MooTube Minute of 2009 which takes a quick look back at that year and also thanks you for allowing us to share our story with you.

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