Rebecca Davis Pork Michigan Producer Blog, PRRS Year 3- The Last Year, February 12th 2019

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I wish I could say that the disease issues our herd has experienced over the last three years have passed. That we have come out stronger, better, and unscathed. However, the reality is that we are in the worst position we have been in over our 60 year history. We have exhausted every option we can think of to regain our pig health, and nothing is working. Even the strategies that have helped feel like a band-aid, masking another, bigger problem by throwing money at it. Once one health challenge seems to ease up, another problem emerges. It is hard to meet with our vets and advisors, them showing a mild indifference to our situation, as we are working tirelessly to save our pigs, bleeding every day for the last 1000.

I wish we had found the cure, the answer, maybe made better decisions, but I honestly don’t know what we would’ve done differently with the information we had at the time. Now, I am a lot less trusting of “experts.” I’m weary of easy fixes, and the traditional way of doing things. Our farm is different, our life is different, and our pigs our different. My values don’t always line up with those driving our industry, but I do love being on the farm. Weighing our options, we decided we need to start over; selling every last pig, and then buying new breeding stock. Maybe we can do something to salvage what we have, but we are getting to the point where we just can’t keep waiting for things to right. We need to take action.

Big changes hurt, but I don’t want to be the generation that spoils my family legacy, as so often happens in multi-generational businesses, where things get complacent. I may go down, but it won’t be without a fight. These changes aren’t easy, and there are many places where we will make mistakes. Our notions of who we are as a company are going to shift. The solid foundation we have is going to move. We will lose some people- people I have known my whole life. That is probably the hardest part for me, but it is another piece of our upheaval.

While change is hard, it gives me the possibility of going back to “normal.” Where every phone call isn’t the next disaster, when my weekend travels are the only thing that keeps me sane. When I can look at my work and again be proud of what I have accomplished, or actually make progress and provide better care to our animals. I look forward to these moments now, as I am sitting nearly paralyzed with fear. In these times, I can see my support system- it’s not as big as I thought it was, but I can make do with what I have.

My lack of writing over the last year is due to dealing with the challenges that I have experienced on the farm. I still journal, and I have taken up a side-gig writing for Silent Sports, which gives me a creative outlet. However, I want to write here, and share my story- the good, and the bad. I can’t say what my life will look like in another year, but I am excited to see how things unfold.

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