Change, transformation, alteration … whatever one may choose to call it, can be seen all around us. At some point in everyone's life they have to face change, whether they want to or not.
At the beginning of 2019, I had to make a tough decision due to a diagnosis of early breast cancer. The decision to have a double mastectomy wasn't easy; it was scary and trying on me both physically and emotionally. Now that I have the first (and most serious) surgery behind me, I can say that, without a doubt, I made the best decision for myself and my family. I am extremely proud that we faced this challenge head-on, but it wasn't simple. There were many times that I second guessed my decisions, was afraid and wanted to ignore the circumstance.
Sometimes change is easy. Want a better body? Exercise. Want to lose weight? Follow a good exercise plan. Then sometimes, life take's a hard right turn leaving you to face an unexpected destination that is new, heartbreaking, and difficult.
Changes to the Southeast dairy industry over the last decade have been profound. We have different consumers, new competitors and a shift in the type of product consumers want. It's a new environment and like it or not, we must change to move dairy forward and to stay competitive in the beverage market. It's not going to be easy, it will be challenging and will require effort and education.
Should the Southeast go to component pricing? Should we invest in new plants? Should we have supply management across the U.S.? How do we market milk to rebuild sales? I don't know. However, our industry must begin seeking answers to these questions (and many more) and make the necessary changes to survive and progress.
I challenge Georgia and Southeast dairy farmers to be a part of the discussions tied to the future of your businesses. Encourage each other, learn and stay informed. Often doing is not the problem; it's the starting that is scary.
Please reach out to our organization to voice your needs and attend meetings to help us map out a plan for the future. I hope you will all vote in favor of our checkoff referendum this month and thank you for the opportunity to serve the Georgia Dairy Industry!