As I prepared my president’s address for the 2022 Annual Meeting, it occurred to me that it had been two full years since our members had gathered for this annual event. Two years might not seem like much time depending on your perspective, but when looking back, those two years were FULL. Full of uncertainty, full of hope and hard work, full of changes that eventually brought more changes to where we are today.
Thanks to COVID-19, we are experiencing unprecedented supply chain issues and labor shortages in nearly every corner of every industry. This year is no exception.
In the past during my president’s address, I have reflected on the past year while noting unique scenarios that I never expected to find myself in. A few of them include:
- Never did I anticipate the milk price hitting $22 while the farm gate price remained at $16.
- Never did I expect to call and order steer and be told it is a 423% of an increase from six months ago.
- Never have I called to get my spray and fertilizer lined up for the next year and be told the price was three times as much if not more than last year’s price. Not only that, but I was told I needed to commit within the hour before the price might change. As if spending that amount of money wasn’t crazy, we’re also hoping to the heavens that it’ll be there when we need it.
- Never did I ever think I would order rear tractor tires because I might need them and would rather be prepared than out of luck.
- Never did I anticipate that sending a skid loader to the shop to get repaired in May 2021 would result in the mechanical work finally being done over ten months later due to waiting on parts.
- Never did I anticipate being so grateful to call farming my profession where I work in wide open spaces, and the cows hardly complain.
If it weren’t obvious, we are living in unprecedented times. After reading this list, I can’t help but laugh. I have found that it is so important to keep laughter in your life, because without laughter, you have nothing.
Of course, anger and frustration won’t change anything, however, your membership with FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative does. Having a seat at the table with national dairy leaders and a direct line of communication means that your concerns and challenges here in your rural Upper Midwest community are being heard in Washington, D.C. FarmFirst knows first-hand the price-increases, delays and other challenges farmers like us are experiencing every day. Improvements take time, and I know that they are advocating for change every chance they get.
As a member of FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative, you should take pride in the fact that the cooperative puts the best interests of its members first – when it comes to developing meaningful programs like our Milk Loss Income program, to delivering services like accurate component testing, to advocating for meaningful and valuable policy reform. FarmFirst leadership and our partners work hard to represent you on issues being discussed by our nation’s policymakers. We look forward to taking today’s vision and building tomorrow’s success, walking in stride with you.
As the spring season quickly approaches, on behalf of all of us at FarmFirst, we wish you a prosperous year ahead. May the seeds we plant today bring a wonderful, profitable harvest in the future.