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!

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5 Things No One is Telling You about Large Farms

Aerial view of our dairy

When you hear the words large dairy farm, what is the first thing you think of? Factory farm? Corporate farms? How about family farm?! No? I didn’t think so. There are so many misconceptions about these dairy farms. Unfortunately, much of what you will read online or videos you watch won’t tell you any of the facts. I am here to tell you, I am apart of a large FAMILY farm and hopefully, after reading this you will have a better understanding of what these farms are really like. Here in New Mexico we are known for our big herd size and dairy farms. New Mexico has the largest average herd size at over 2,000 cows per dairy. Lots of open spaces and the climate are the main factors behind this. But it might surprise you to hear that 95% of all dairies in the United States are family owned and operated. And it is no different here in New Mexico where 96% of our dairies are family owned.

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A visit from the Governor

Cow loss. Calf loss. Milk loss. Lower production. Higher cull rate. Emotional toll…

Unfortunately, these were the topics of conversation yesterday, when we hosted New Mexico’s Governor Susana Martinez and her team at our dairy farm. Many local dairy farmers came out to discuss the repercussions of winter storm Goliath and how the State can help. Here we are 18 days after the blizzard getting use to our “new” normal. We all knew it was going to be hard, but it doesn’t make it any easier. We may be a little bigger than the average dairy, but this is our family farm. We have worked hard to raise our herd, only to have Mother Nature wreak havoc. Everyday I hear the same stories from heart broken producers and yesterday was no different. One producer’s story hit too close to home for most people in the meeting. He described the emotions he was feeling stepping foot on his dairy Monday morning after the storm. That morning one of his employees came up to him with tears in hers eyes and said “I am sorry for your loss”. And with that they hugged and cried. All his hard work, gone in one day. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

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