June 3, 2004

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if a week went by without me angering some reader? I’d probably have fewer gray hairs, wouldn’t have to take medicine for ulcers and could sleep better at night.

Granted, I am going to upset some folks simply by the nature of the business. I expect to hear complaints about arrest reports, court news and other such items. However, it pains me when my efforts to create good news are taken the wrong way.

Apparently the choice of words in the headline of last week’s dairy story has angered local producers. The play on words “Dairy Farmers Milking More Dollars Out Of Consumers” seems to have offended some. Apparently “milking” more money out of milk drinkers is a bad thing.

Nowhere in the story does it say anything negative about the dairy industry. It simply was an attempt to explain a market trend that has seen milk prices rise. As I’ve explained numerous times, I am all for free market trade. Just like I don’t see how we can be mad at oil producers for higher gas prices, I see no fault in dairy farmers getting more for their milk, especially since they all agree they were being drastically underpaid before.

The issue is especially of interest to local readers because of the higher concentration of dairy farmers that call Scotland County home. I guess that’s what is so disheartening about this whole issue for me.

Personally I feel like higher dairy prices are a good thing for our local economy. The more money local farmers can make, the more money they have to spend in the community. So the jump from $12 to $19 per hundredweight of milk was a good thing.

It’s all in the choice of a single word.

Is “milking” bad? According to the dictionary, I guess it can be. One definition of to milk is “to draw or coerce profit or advantage from illicitly or to an extreme degree”. My choice of words was bad. I didn’t wish to say that dairy farmers are exploiting consumers. I simply wanted to say they are receiving more money for their product. I could have said “Dairy farmers getting more money from consumers”, but dairy farmers milk. They are getting more money for their milk, so they are “milking” more money from buyers. It was not an attempt to be derogatory, just a play on words.

So, if I offended dairy producers, I apologize.

Now for all of you weather fans out there that are mad at me because I reported on the “Area’s First Severe Storm of ‘04” you really aren’t going to blame me for the second one are you?

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