What Surprises Me the Most: Farmers are Our Toughest Critics

Cousins touring the dairy

I can’t believe it has been almost a year since I started blogging to advocate for agriculture. With that milestone approaching, I have been reflecting back on this last year. I have learned so much and talked with so many amazing people all over the US and the world.

I ultimately decided to start blogging because I love telling people about dairy, and, I like to think, consumers love learning about where their food comes from. Dairy farming is our passion. And it is important to educate our consumers about what it is we do exactly and how we care for our cows and our land. It is probably one of THE most important thing that we can do right now. This new generation is even more removed from agriculture than the previous ones. And they get most (if not all) of their news from sources like their Facebook newsfeed. Our jobs and our livelihoods depend on us connecting with our consumers. Consumers constantly see negative things about farming online. If we don’t show them the truth, then they will stop buying our products. And the highest milk price in the world isn’t going to keep us all in business if no one is buying milk. If you think I am overreacting just take a look at the decrease in fluid milk sales over the last 50 years and the increase in alternative milk products.

So what has surprised me the most since I started blogging? The criticism I receive from my fellow dairy producers and farmers!

Calves enjoying a New Mexico Sunset
Calves enjoying a New Mexico Sunset

Every time I share a blog, I expect backlash from some anti-ag people and some differences of option. But what I never expected was all the criticism from my fellow dairy producers and farmers. Every time without fail, I get a message or a post because I didn’t do or say something the way someone else thought I should. Someone has something to say about everything: large farms vs. small farms, conventional vs. organic, open lot vs. free stall, etc. We all dairy and farm differently depending on where we live. We need to stop fighting among ourselves and start being on the same team! I recently joined the Facebook group My Job Depends on Ag. And it has opened my eyes to all sorts of different types of agriculture. It has made me realize how every farmer and producer has their struggles with pricing and regulators and anti-ag. The list goes on and on of the battles we are constantly fighting.  As dairy producers, we often attack almond milk. Guess what almond producers are farmers just like us. Obviously, we each have to market our products, and obviously, I think cow’s milk is the superior product! (Who wants to drink nut juice and fruit juice, anyways?!) But seriously, we don’t have to attack each other to get our point across. We are ALL agriculture! We have enough people out there that are against us. If we don’t stand together, we will be torn apart.

Heifers grazing on rangeland
Heifers grazing on rangeland

So with that being said, blogging is hard. It is hard to put yourself and your family out there for strangers to see and to share your most personal moments with anyone and everyone. It takes a ton of time. Time away from my family, my real job and my life. Most ag bloggers aren’t making a ton of money doing this. We do this because we know someone has too. And I know it’s not for everyone. So while it may not be your thing. Support the producers and farmers who are trying to make a difference and educate the public. Don’t be so quick to slam one type of farming just to promote something else. We are all in this together.

Don’t get me wrong, most of this last year has been an amazing experience! I have received support and feedback from people in all walks of life. Just this month, I had two great opportunities to share about dairy that reminded me why I am doing this. The first was a cousin and her boyfriend coming out to New Mexico for a visit. The weekend ended up turning into what felt like one long dairy farm tour. I always want to know what people think after they visit a dairy for the first time. What surprised them the most? What was their favorite part? Later in the month, I spent a week at the National EPA CAFO Roundtable. That’s right a whole week with State and Federal regulators from all over the US. Not intimidating at all… We started the week with a dairy tour that was honestly, the highlight of the week for many of the people visiting. This dairy family went above and beyond to make this tour a memorable one for everyone. I spent the rest of the week answering questions and educating them about life on a dairy. What I soon found out was the people that regulate us, don’t really know us or what goes into a dairy just like most of the public. Again, this is why we have to do this.

Cousins touring the dairy
Cousins touring the dairy

Over this last year, I have worked hard to find my voice and figure out how to share my story. The learning curve has been tough (and still is) for learning about website design and blogging platforms. And I always wish I had more time to write and post blogs. But overall, I am so glad I started this journey and am grateful for all the support from my friends, family and strangers that encourage me everyday. I cannot wait to see where this continues to take me.

Udderly in love with all ag,

New Mexico Milkmaid

PS. Photo credits go to my unbelievably talented cousin, Casey Wollbrinck!



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