Depending on how you look at it, the U.S. dairy industry is large and growing, or small and shrinking. You’d be correct in both cases.
On the “large” side, U.S. milk production will likely top 200 billion lbs. again in 2014, and annual U.S. dairy exports could be close to $6 billion for a second consecutive year. Collectively, that’s big business, with huge upside potential.
On the “small” side, you could give a Green Bay Packer ticket to one employee of every U.S. dairy farm commercially licensed to sell milk and each commercial dairy processing plant in the country, and still not fill two-thirds of Lambeau Field. We’re a relatively small community, steeped in rural values and ethics.
Some of you may recognize my mugshot and name from somewhere else, because when we move within our small community, we don’t lose our identity. What may change, however, is our own perspective.
So, even though I’m still a dairy magazine editor, I’m in a new place, with a different view. Undoubtedly, Dairy Herd Management will bring new perspectives to my job, just as I will bring new perspectives to Dairy Herd Management.
In some cases, those perspectives will reveal themselves quickly; others over time. One of the pieces of advice people have given me over the years during any transition is this: “For the first (suggested length of time), don’t move the furniture, just dust.” In other words, don’t rush in and make major changes until you understand the culture and processes already in place.
I think changing perspectives is a good thing, to gain a different view of things. According to folklore, even the lowly groundhog is afraid of his own shadow.
So this year, as I change, I challenge you to change your own perspectives — even if you change nothing else.
Look at every job on your dairy from an employees’ perspective; look at your lifestyle from the perspective of your spouse or family; look at your milk quality from the perspective of your milk buyer; look at your business ledger from the perspective of your banker; and look at what you do and how you do it from the perspective of the consumer. (At the same time, hope they all do the reverse to gain a better understanding of you.)
When it comes to a dairy/business management communications company, I have a couple simple things that guide my editorial decisions.
• The articles should contain a “teachable moment” — something most readers can learn from.
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