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Thread: Thoughts on Dairy/General Trends...

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2006
    St. Louis

    Default Thoughts on Dairy/General Trends...

    This thread was originally in another thread on site suggestions.

    A member mentioned something about industry trends, and the moderator/administrator inadvertently hijacked the thread with some thoughts on industry trends. After giving it some more thought, I decided to move my thoughts to the parlor talk section, where it will be less obtrusive...

    Quote Originally Posted by hughesdairy
    This site has a great potential as it gives folks a chance to visit from all over; something that a lot of us don't have the time or opportunity to do> I do hope it will give farms of all sizes a chance to share ideas. The dairy mags seem to have the" get bigger or get out" attitude, possibly due to pressure from advertisers. There are a lot of farms using crossbreeding and grazing.....hope to hear a lot on those subjects

    Posts like this make my day, and I am so grateful for your encouragement. I see we have some folks starting to visit from all over, and I hope the energy keeps going.

    You hit a nerve here so I'm going to jump in with a few ideas of my own that were inspired by your comments. (I have a strange fascination with trends.... I hope these thoughts don't drive people away pulling out their hair.

    I love what you said about farms of all sizes sharing ideas. I do not see a overt effort by the dairy mags to press for larger dairies. Perhaps they are reporting more than urging? At least I don't feel they urge up sizing because of ad pressure. Believe it or not, most of the reputable magazines I have worked with as an agricultural ad guy/PR guy over the years -- I trust the industry mags to keep editorial and ads separate. (Am I naive?) I worked at more than one agricultural ad agency/corporation who got mad at various mags along the way for saying stuff that wasn't nice about a product. They still ran ads if they knew what was good for them. (Some do not know, but that's another story.

    My personal belief is that the "get bigger" mindset is part just like I think you may be seeing it -- a bit troubling at some level -- and part I think due to the same pressure that exists in nearly every other industry: The trend everywhere in every industry is toward consolidation, lowering production cost, economies of scale, increased competition, etc. It's happening in banking, grocery, medicine, automotive, etc. etc. The companies that are good at cutting costs and increasing profit are what the shareholders are looking for. (CEOs get a lot of money from their boards for pulling that off.)

    With that trend comes a lot of happy shareholders, and also some nasty stuff like small town main street having their clothing stores, theater, doctor office, drug stores and cafes, get closed down and "replaced" by a Wal-Mart with clothes made in Asia and a KFC that doesn't even serve real honey anymore sprouting like mushrooms out on the new bypass where the highway traffic now glides around town instead of through it.

    <side rant>OK, my Ex called earlier tonight so I probably should have cooled off for a while before waxing darkly philosophical at 1 am central time.</side rant>

    Anybody who has lived through that will ask -- Is it better now? For me it doesn't feel like it's better, but then again nothing feels like it did 30 years ago when I was 12.

    So isn't that same sort of trend behind fewer dairies, some dairies getting bigger and some dairies having a hard time staying in business? I don't know enough to guess about why, but I have listened to a lot of dairy experts debate these topics. And those debates left me seeing a lot in common between ag and other industries I have worked in when it comes to size trends. Regardless, I hope that large and small can join together here for the common good. I understand that a farm with 10,000 cows is not like a farm with 50, but having spent some time on both farms I saw a spark of common energy in both types of people when they talked about their dairy and their cows.

    The BIG difference I see in Dairy and ag in general vs. those other industries I mentioned is you guys don't set your prices. (On the other hand, some of the companies that sell to WalMart don't really set their prices either. WalMart does) I sometimes like to imagine what would happen if producers did get a bigger cut of the $3 I pay for a gallon of milk or $4 + for a box of corn flakes.

    One of the reasons I built this site to be honest is that I grew up in an agricultural world that is changing in some ways that I am not comfortable with, and I know it's ironic but I think a place like a Web site can help make a difference. Knowledge is truly power, and the fact is that the people are getting power through information they get online. They also get an interesting sort of virtual community.

    So please help me out here folks -- am I seeing this through the ignorant eyes of a guy who didn't grow up in dairy?

    I'd love to read thoughts on this from folks who live it every day.

    If you think I should delete this post because it might be too dark, somebody please let me know that too. I don't want to be driving away "traffic."



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2006


    Drak rant? LOL. Last article I wrote and didn't lose, touched on some of your thoughts John. My perspective is different. There is a distinct state level ag push for more production. The trend is for 1000+ head, more automation, and more production from a single cow, including the use of questionable assistance manufactured by Monsanto. I am adamently opposed to treating a cow like a unit of production and don't see the analogies with WalMart or HomeDepot, though I do understand that the economic motivation is identical for some businessmen.

    Without revealing the thesis of my article which was submitted but is not yet accepted, when we treat an animal without compassion it lessens our own humanity. Working with a dairy cow is a barter agreement. We take care of her, she will take care of us, seen any other way, the cow becomes yet another object to be exploited for profit, like so many other "objects" in our society. Do we really need that much production? Don't know about anyone else but when a box of corn flakes is more expensive than a gallon of milk, something is seriously wrong. When a candy bar or loaf of bread, is more expensive than a dozen eggs??? This is insanity. Somewhere in a cage or a stall a sentient being is living a squalid existence and somewhere a CEO is driving his Hummer today because his Porsche is at the shop, an overweight teen is in front of the television with a gallon of cheap ice cream, a young adult reaches for a Snickers and a Coke for dinner... a family of four goes through the drive thru at MacDonald's for four "Big Breakfasts" and by 10 a.m. will receive their full day's requirements for calories, fat, and sodium. I know people who are disgusted with the thought of butchering a chicken but will down half a roaster in under ten minutes The availability of cheap food has made our nation, and the western world in general less healthy not healthier and it is exclusively responsible for the suffering inflicted on the animals whose lives are taken and spit out for that cheap food.

    But specifically speaking of dairy, I am a proud supporter of the back to the land movement. In this movement I see the better trend. It is saner and healthier. People are taking their choices away fom big ag and govt. This will have a profound impact in economics from the FDA to the USDA to the politician and pharmaceutical companies. We are spending our dollars at home. We look for health in our stock, incorporate heritage breeds where it makes sense to do so, and go to bed at night tired but with a satisfaction that no Snickers bar can ever hope to nea. And if we share with our own extended families more people will be eating healthier and we may get some reimbursement for our costs in a way Ag and the USDA can't prosecute.
    M Pimentel

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