The question is not what you look at, but what you see.
-Henry David Thoreau


We’re in the middle of full-swing hunting season here, and my husband is in his glory.  With three different licenses in three different states, he’s prepared for geese, deer and bear…and I have to admit, going with him has been fun.  Not that I’m an expert shot by any means, but being in the woods, watching for the faintest of movements and just appreciating everything that you’re surrounded with is pretty cool.  And you can totally appreciate it because with 15 layers of clothing, you really can’t do much else but look!  We were out one late afternoon in the tree stand waiting for deer and it was a glorious fall day.  When you’re trying to be a serious hunter, you have to stay almost hyper-focused on every leaf, every tree, every movement (beyond the squirrels that is).  And you can almost concentrate so much that you lose sight of the big picture.  Of course, that happened and I completely missed the deer, much to my husband’s dismay.  I kept wondering how I could be so focused on the woods that I missed the real reason we were there.

When it comes to the A.I. industry and the dairy business in general, I think we all might be a little guilty of forgetting what we see…and that’s opportunity.  It’s so easy to get frustrated if we pick a popular bull and he’s short supply.  It’s so easy to dwell on low milk prices.  Granted, both situations are not to be taken lightly by any means, but are we really looking at everything?  What do we see when things like that happen?

In this issue, our Senior Holstein Sire Analyst, Kevin Jorgensen, addresses the first question very well.  What do we do when a well-known bull is in short supply?  With nearly 50 proven bulls in both lineups, as well as over 180 young sires in both lineups, there are a lot more bulls than just the “chosen few.”  Kevin reminds us that there are some bulls that have been overlooked but have just as much genetic power and can make incredibly profitable cattle for you.  You just have to “see” them.

What about companies that are venturing forth with new, expanded and aggressive marketing of dairy products despite the depressed prices?  The Creamery is a new cheese store in Beaver, Utah that features 11,250-square feet of interactive cheese goodness.  Visitors can milk a fake cow, culture and add rennet, cut the curd, add salt and mill the product all before molding and packaging the cheese.  According to DFA officials, the hands-on experience helps consumers understand where their food comes from and how dairy products are made.

There’s probably no better example of seeing opportunity than in Tillamook, Oregon, where the new Tillamook Creamery is open for business!  We’ve heard nothing but rave reviews about the new visitors center and tasting experiences, plus we know that several of our customers are featured in the educational venues there.  Although Oregon has never been known as the epicenter of dairy activities, Tillamook and its member owners saw the opportunity to change that and not only make their brand name a favorite throughout the Northwest, but across the country as well.  You can check out their new website.

I realize we’re not all able to ship milk to an innovative creamery and we’re not all able to do direct marketing of our products to consumers.  But what other opportunities are we not seeing?  With milk pricing holding at a “barely survivable” rate, we can’t just sit still.  I recently read about a farm near us that decided to downsize the herd, add some vegetable crops and go full force into a local farmer’s market.  They also decided to raise birds on some acres that weren’t being used for the cows, and now supply a local hunt club.

If you’re a dairy producer, you’ve had to see opportunities through the years to change, improve or update the way you’re doing business.  You haven’t just looked at the falling prices of milk, but you’ve had to see alternative options.

So next month we’d like to hear from you.  What did you/do you SEE in the dairy industry right now?  Have you changed the way you do business?  Have you opened the door and started a new business?  What one thing did you see in 2018 and how did you respond?   We think everyone has a story to share – and we can definitely learn from each other.  Send your comments and we’ll summarize the ideas that we get in the December issue of DiamondCuts.

We can be defeated looking at situations that are beyond our control, like semen supply or milk pricing, or we can change what we see.  Looking for opportunities is risky, but so is settling for status quo.  I didn’t want to look away from the stand of trees I was focused on, but because I didn’t, I refused to see the deer running away.  I’ll never know if I could have gotten it because I never took the shot.

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