Editor’s Note: Back to the Future for Dairy

Agriculture is the oldest industry around. Even beyond biblical times, whatever the situation, there was always a farmer involved in some way. Throughout various eras, the process has stayed the same although the tools and technology used have evolved.

For instance, the art of dairy is a method that is continually changing. In our dairy edition, we explore that simple premise. We are now reaching the dawn of the robotic milking age. Already popular in Europe, robotics were experimented with in the Northeast and Midwest United States with success. More farms are leaning toward this system realizing the possible cost and time savings.

As the times are changing with milk prices and consumer demands, area farms are moving right along with the new landscape (Read “Adapting to the New Dairy” to learn more about the Hastings Farm operation). Our cover story explains how the industry is looking to the past to move toward the future. Bernville, Pennsylvania’s own Way-Har Farms has brought back an era before big dairy by (re)introducing single source, farm-direct milk.

There are many trends with dairy that are shaping the future ahead. U.S. consumers have been demanding more nutritional products that focus on dietary balance and a healthy lifestyle. On a broader scale, sustainability is key as more operations are creating local ecosystems that fit the communities’ needs. The earth is getting no bigger. It’s time we make the best with what we have, and dairy is a major player in the changing world.

We can discuss and debate about the role dairy will have in the future of agriculture; however, my Group Publisher (and resident farm aficionado) Barb Sweet reminds me to never… ever… forget the cow. That’s right! She sets the scene… : “It is summer time, cows are out eating fresh grass, yellow dandelions… ” Her point: the cow is sacred. You can’t have anything — yogurt, cheese, even bottled milk — without the cow.

So as we raise our glasses (of milk) in the air to celebrate National Dairy Month and all the hard work and effort our dairy farmers do yearround, let us not forget to remember our livestock brethren that make it all possible. Here’s to you, my happy Holstein.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.