One of the things I enjoy most about my job is being able to get out and meet with our members. DBA has been blessed with a friendly, collaborative and inspirational membership, from farmers to agribusiness people.
This blessing is also one of our primary strategic advantages and provides opp-ortunities for our members to learn from one another. With the current financial and market stresses in the dairy community, we need practical and sustainable ideas to meet our challenges head-on. Those ideas can come from each other.
Recently, I had the privilege of moderating DBA’s Dairy Financial Drivers webinar, presented by Zoetis and Compeer Financial. Dr. Mike Lormore from Zoetis and Steve Bodart from Compeer did an excellent job of providing valuable and timely information on how farmers can drive positive change to their bottom line. Recently, Nicole Barlass, our director of member relations, and I met with Jack Hippen of STgenetics to explore ways to provide educational opportunities regarding genetics. These are examples of the vast knowledge within the DBA family.
DBA’s challenge is to find better ways to provide this sort of vital information to you. However, I believe the personal interaction within our membership is key. You never know when or where you will meet a thought leader.
Timing is everything in life, and that couldn’t be more accurate than when it comes to policy. This is not only true on the state front but also on the national level dealing with trade, the farm bill, labor, labeling and regulatory issues. I don’t know if I have seen as many issues being considered at once as we have in 2018, and they are interrelated. This is not only difficult for dairy farmers to understand and manage, but also a complicated environment to navigate from an association perspective.
The wisdom of the DBA and Edge boards to split responsibilities two years ago was a wise move. This has provided the bandwidth and expertise to better address the issues at hand and ensure our farmers’ voices are heard. As the complexity, volatility and political uncertainty continue, DBA must remain agile in its approach to obtaining positive outcomes.
Regarding outcomes, let’s stop and reflect on the tremendous progress made by the farmer-led watershed groups throughout the state. These projects, which have been in part developed and supported by the Dairy Strong Sustainability Alliance, are changing the conversation about continuous improvement around water quality and soil health. The default of the past was increased regulation, but now we are shifting the conversation to innovation. How? Through voluntary participation of farmers representing more than 175,000 acres and 75,000 cows, and, most importantly, the sharing of definable and documented environmental progress. This is another way farmers’ initiatives can be the model of the future.
I am a believer that an organization must evolve to meet members’ needs. We need to be forward-thinking and transparent to benefit from change. We know that anxiety often accompanies change, but positive steps forward will provide the confidence we need to succeed.