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January 31, 2019

Through Dairy Crisis, Know What’s Important

 |  By: Dairy Talk

As the dairy crisis continues to drag on and even deepen, it’s critical to keep what’s really important to you foremost in mind.


Hank Wagner, a dairy farmer from Shawano, Wis. and an inspirational speaker with Wagner Leadership Training, provides three important steps to maintain your equilibrium through these tough times in a 16-minute podcast published by the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin.


Those three things:


  1. Determine what’s really, really important in your life.
  2. Determine why that thing is important to you.
  3. And then try to work out what you can and should do about it.

In the podcast, Wagner his pick-up on a short trip to an open space of farmland that, 30 years ago, he learned the most important lesson of his life. The site was once a prosperous farm.


After high school, Wagner worked at the farm as an employee after his dad told him there was no place for him at the home farm. Wagner was so upset with his family that he didn’t speak to them for almost a year.


In his anger, he went to work for what he thought was a prosperous neighbor, thinking he could learn how to become a successful farmer with hundreds of acres of land and lots of cattle. Today, however, there is nothing left of the neighbor’s farm but open land. The barn, the blue silos, the brick house along with the cattle and the machinery are all gone.


“I watched [my neighbor] lose what was precious to him. He lost his marriage and his relationship with his children. He had an amazing, wonderful wife and awesome children,” says Wagner.


“But the land, the cattle, the buildings were more important to him than his family. I came to realize that the most important thing [in life] was people,” he says.


Wagner went on to marry the love of his life. He mended the relationship with his family, and he and his wife successfully raised two children, who themselves are now married with amazing spouses. The Wagner’s also have one grandchild.


Wagner believes farmers have an important role to play in society. “Producing food and feeding the world is important to me,” he says. But nothing is more important to him than people—family, employees, consultants and vendors, and neighbors.


So his advice to farmers now struggling is to take some time to decide what is really important to them. Then develop a plan to nurture and preserve that one, most important thing.


Remember this, he says:


  1. You are important and incredibly valuable.
  2. Don’t lose hope.
  3. Your past doesn’t have to be your future.
  4. The best is yet to come.

Please take a few minutes now to listen to Wagner’s message here. It’s the best 16 minutes you’ll spend today.