The above picture is of my three kids: Emma (15), Kate (12) and Zeke (10). As you can see, Zeke often gets "stuck" in the middle. According to Zeke, it's tough having two older sisters when you are a 10 year old boy. They want to take pictures all of the time, they want to go shopping, and often spend too much time talking about clothes, hair and shoes (which is pretty "stupid" to him). He's outnumbered, and I think he clearly expresses that in the picture above. When Zeke has had enough, he lets his sisters know.
Like Zeke, I think the Southeast dairy industry has had enough. It's hard to smile when fluid milk sales have shown little improvement over the last 20 years. On-farm milk prices remain depressed and many dairy farm families have closed their businesses.
So what can our industry do to bring a smile back to the Southeast? Well for starters, Southeast dairy producers must work together. Dairy producers must settle their differences and agree on a unified plan of action. Despite the size or type of dairy - grazing, organic, or conventional - dairy producers must come together to improve the market.
Second, dairy producers must hold legislators, cooperatives, producer organizations and checkoff programs accountable - this includes Georgia Milk Producers. Your milk sales fund these organizations. Get involved, attend meetings and voice your opinions and expectations.
Finally, dairy producers must produce what the consumer wants. Innovation is the key to rebuilding our Southeast dairy industry. Our products must be convenient, nutritious, and taste good. There's no such thing as pride when it comes to meeting customers' needs. As the market evolves, the dairy industry must evolve.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as the voice for Georgia's dairy industry. Hope to see your family or staff at one of our meetings this year or at the Georgia Dairy Conference in January.