There is something different about the dairy business. It is something unique you don’t see in other businesses and industries. We seem to genuinely care about each other.
Make no mistake, a dairy is still a business and a competitive one. A profit that needs to be made, a payroll has to be paid, rules and regulations need to be followed. Being a dairyman is not a free walk in the park.
We compete with each other over markets, feed supplies, and calf buyers. None of us like having their hay farmer “stolen” or their employees poached. At auctions we bid against each other for equipment or cows while we try to figure out how to outsmart the other guy and we like to tell how we do things just a little better than that other guy.
But when a calamity happens to another dairyman, we pause. Even if we don’t know the people particularly well, we take a moment to think about what that means to that dairy farmer and their family. We think about what it would mean if it happened to us because we are intimately familiar with what goes into running a dairy 365 days a year. We also recognize how easy it would be for us to be in the same situation.
The industry is similar to a family. We may not like everyone in the industry but, “Hey!”, they are one of us. It’s one of those situations that it’s acceptable if I complain about another dairy farmer but CNN had better just back off. That’s my people you be talking about!
So, when I hear that someone has lost their market, I’m stunned. My market might be okay but I want to know what those people are going to do. If someone has to dump milk because a processor has no room I’m disgusted because I know about what it took to produce the milk that’s going on the floor. If there is a death, everyone pauses a moment because that person was one of ours and now our world is going to be different without them.
In times of need, the size of dairy doesn’t seem to matter. I have seen big dairies help small dairies, small ones help large ones.
Geography doesn’t matter. Everyone knows that the issues in the dairy industry are not contained by state lines. We may not know everything about dairies in other states but we recognize their struggle.
Recently, one dairyman contracted an illness that hospitalized him with a long road to recovery. Another dairyman was in a feed truck accident. The outpouring of love, concern and prayers offered for these two men has been tremendous. The amazing part is how many of these cards, messages, emails, from people that don’t know them. Many of them came from another state.
They are all part of the dairy industry/family. I should not be surprised.
It’s a different industry. Proud to be a part of it.