|Lad and the boys getting ready to feed cows|
The dairy industry has experienced a major economic challenge over the past 20 months with low milk prices and high input costs. Despite economic and other challenges this industry faces, my husband, Lad, and I are optimistic about the future of dairy.
Dairy farming remains a wonderful way of life we value and it can be a solid business that provides a good living. This is not simply an occupation, but a lifestyle choice the entire family participates in. We instill in our children an appreciation for animals, the value of hard, meaningful work and the satisfaction of producing a quality product that so many people depend on and enjoy.
Who will carry on the important task of food production in this nation? The number of farmers decreases each year. The U.S. loses approximately 5% of its dairy farms annually. The average age of U.S. farmers is 55 and few young people are entering the industry.
As the number of farmers decrease, the number of mouths to feed rises. The world population is expected to increase 37% by 2050. This growing population will desire a larger quantity of quality food due to a higher standard of living in developing nations.
Farmers have a challenging job ahead; however productivity advances due to technology and improved management practices make it possible for fewer farmers to feed an increasing population. In the last 40 years, the world population doubled but farmland didn’t. Modern agriculture methods and technology enable farmers to produce more with less. Today, farmers yield more per acre and per cow using fewer resources such as land, water, fuel and fertilizer. In 1970, one farmer produced enough food for 73 people. Today, one farmer can feed 155 people.
Agriculture needs young people. We have visions of passing our farm on to our sons one day and hope they find ways to grow and diversify this business making it their own.