A lot has changed in the dairy industry in Kansas since those early days. When I still had the cows, our herd was one of over 30 herds in Saline County alone participating in official testing for milk production of each individual cow. Today, in most counties, I don’t believe any milking herds remain. Yet somehow Kansas is the 5th largest dairy state in the country. Obviously, the huge dairies in western Kansas make that possible. Which is why Trump’s tariff policies have been so damaging to not just those dairies but to the overall economy of Kansas. Mexico and China have been major purchasers of milk products from us, and their shift to other dairy sources may not just be temporary.
For this June to be really special, we need two things to change. First, our country’s trade policies need to more positively represent the interests of all who market internationally, and not just in the dairy industry. Second, development of a sensible immigration policy would really help. Why do I say that? Very simple: If you were milking 10,000 to 25,000 cows probably three times a day and depended on immigrants to do that work, you would see immigration policy in a totally different light. The tariffs and the need for immigrant workers make milking cows in Kansas a real challenge. And the Trump Administration is making it even harder on both fronts.
Obviously, I haven't milked a cow for a very long time. But I still have fond respect for those who do and wish them the very best for not only June but for the future. Just to stay in touch, I do still take the Hoard’s Dairyman- a magazine out of Wisconsin where one of my 4-H kids from the Smolan community, Steve Larson, served as chief executive for many years. I will toast the dairy industry this year by stopping at the nearest Dairy Queen on my way home for a Chocolate Cookie Dough Blizzard.