I am writing this post while looking out the windows of a conference room and watching Deauville, France get it’s Monday morning started.
It’s not too shabby of a way to get my own Monday morning started, even if my body still hasn’t figured out what time or day it is.
I am in Deauville, a beach town near Caen, to once again be a part of the Alltech Global 500 Dairy and Beef meetings. The last 3 times I have been part of Alltech events, they have been in beautiful Lexington, Kentucky. While all Alltech events have participants from around the globe and have opened my eyes to a more global picture of the agriculture industry, I must say that this trip has changed my life.
For the first time in my life I am in a place where English isn’t the native language. I am struggling to recall the French I learned 20 years ago when I was in middle school. So far I can count to ten, say hello, thank you and I can excitedly say “Vache, Norman!” each time I see my favorite breed of cow grazing the fields around us. Hubs (yes, he is here too) is getting sick of that phrase. I am out of my normal element, I am out of my normal day to day life and I highly suggest that if you have the opportunity to do the same some time you take it.
While I could go into the technical science of increasing sustainability, traceability and availability of beef and dairy on a global scale, as I am learning about while at this conference, my brain keeps coming back to one sentence. Dr. Pearse Lyons, the President and Founder of Alltech said a few simple words yesterday morning during his opening remarks to the group of 700+ farmers and ag professionals from 43 different countries assembled in front of him, that united a room of strangers.
“No matter where they are in the world, farmers are farmers.”
Of course the farmers down the road from us that milk organic jersey cows, grow organic produce and make the best tortillas I have ever had, are farmers just like Hubs and I, even if we don’t farm the same way.
Of course the people raising milo, cotton, sugar cane or a crop that we couldn’t even begin to grow in Wisconsin are also farmers just like us.
But what about the people who milk 50 cows in France? They don’t speak my language. The entire dairy system in France is set up very differently than the US system. They are farmers but…surely our differences mean their concerns and worries are different than ours?
Last night Hubs and I sat at a table of French dairy farmers for a dinner and discussion focused on how we could improve the reproductive abilities of our cows. Half of our table didn’t speak English, all of our conversation was translated by two of the farmers that knew English. Despite the language differences, despite the different production methods, despite the different products and services we have available on our farms, the conversation revealed the truth, we all had similar struggles.
Farmers are farmers. Across the road or across the globe, we are connected.