Dairy farming certainly has changed during the past decade

By Darren Turley, TAD executive director

Happy Holidays! Wow, I can’t believe that it is the end of 2019 already. This has been a busy year that has flown by. It is even harder to believe that we are starting a new decade. With 2020 upon us, what are your plans for the next 10 years?

Can you remember 2010? We were coming off a tough financial downturn and headed into one of the worst drought’s on record for the entire state of Texas in both 2011 and 2012. Then the Goliath storm event impacted a large number of the Panhandle dairy and beef producers.

A decade ago, Texas had 55% more dairy farmers producing 30% less milk. We’ve seen a huge swing in 10 years. The boom in milk production we’ve seen is why Texas is now the fifth largest dairy state, up from seventh in 2010.

What about technology? Rotary barns were still very new ideas, as was sex semen. There was little discussion of genomics or drones on most dairy farms. Now we collect data directly from each cow through “pedometers” and rumination monitoring.

The 2020s will be the decade of the growth of robots. Robotic technology already is arriving in the dairy industry, as we saw at T&K dairy at Southwest Dairy Day. The farm labor shortage no doubt will continue to spur more dairy farmers to invest in various forms of robotic advancements.

Legislative representation changed in 2010 due to redistricting following a new census, and we will have some significant changes at the state and national capitols after the 2020 census. As our state’s population becomes more urban, the next census is expected to reduce rural Texas representation by two state House members, while the population shift contributes to the addition of as many as four seats in Congress for Texas.

Regardless of the census, the ranking West Texas congressional delegation will change in the 2020 election with the retirements of Reps. Mike Conaway, ranking member and former chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, and Mac Thornberry, ranking member and former chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Where will you be taking your dairy operation in the next decade? Wherever it is, the Texas Association of Dairymen will be working to help Texas dairy farmers continue to advance and become the fourth largest dairy state. Maybe even higher!

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