*Please note: This is a re-post from March 2009.
Friday and Saturday I attended the Young Farmers Leadership Conference in Grand Rapids. With the conference being so close it was actually more inconvenient. I canceled the 2 FREE nights at the Amway Grand Hotel and commuted because I had to feed calves in the morning.The highlight of the conference for me was listening to Lowell Catlett talk about the difference in farming (and consumer attitudes)50 years ago to today and the changes that we need to be planning for to make it to 2030. He really made me think about how we really need to be forward-thinking to be "sustainable" in agriculture- especially with the markets being so volatile. He talked a lot about "Sustainability" and finding the definition for it. To different people it means different things. Wickopedia's definition of sustainability is the ability to maintain a certain process or state. Now to me, a 4Th generation farm that is a few years away from its Centennial celebration would most certainly qualify. I am very proud to have an active role at SwissLane Farms. Our efforts in environmental stewardship, community outreach, quality, animal care, and team building have helped to pave the road to the future. The pressure from low milk prices, the economy, activist groups, and increased regulation are nothing new to the farm but that doesn't mean it doesn't take its toll on us (especially in the dead of winter!). But for me, this is a very encouraging and hopeful time at SwissLane. Allen (my brother in-law) started working in the Cow Department and Jerry (my husband) started in the Manure and Crop department within the last few months. The 4th generation stepping up and taking an active role shows that this dairy will continue to be a "sustainable" family farm. I can't wait to see what 2030 will have in store for us!