Advice for Dairy Farmers

MINNESOTA - The Dairy Initiative Profitability Team program helps dairy farmers with financial or production issues.
calendar icon 31 December 2008
clock icon 2 minute read

Program coordinators want more people to know about the work the teams do.

Central Minnesota Dairy Initiative coordinator Sarah Roerick and her southeastern Minnesota counterpart Merri Post became coordinators about the same time six years ago. They developed teams to work on a variety of dairy farms from conventional to organic and dairy cows to dairy goats.

"Sometimes the farmers are looking to expand their operations," Roerick said. "Sometimes they want ideas for their farm. Others want to transfer the farm to non-family members."

The program is working with seven farm transfers now. More farm transitions need to happen, Post said.

"We really need more of that to help the younger generation get on the farm," Post said. "It's a win-win for both sides. By doing that it's exciting for the farmer who, after the transition, finds himself better off tax-wise. For the younger farmers, they get help getting on a farm."

Roerick and Post are among the state's seven program coordinators. Jeremy Lanctot who coordinators the program for the Sustainable Farming Association.

"We just want people to be aware of what we do," Post said.

Program coordinators gather teams of five to seven dairy industry professionals to work with farmers who sign up for the Dairy Initiative program. Teams usually include an Extension employee, a nutritionist, an ag lender, a farm business management instructor, Soil and Water Conservation District conservationist and veterinarian, Roerick said.

Teams can address a farmer's need to lower costs, reduce labor, improve herd health, increase net profit, protect the environment and enhance family life.

The program is up for renewal in the upcoming legislative session. While it's unknown how state programs will fare due to Minnesota's budget woes, supporters of the program are getting the word out about its success.

"In areas like ours, ag is paramount," Post said. "It's an important part of the community."

The program is among several supporting the state's dairy industry.

"We are trying to stress that agriculture is one of the bright spots in our state's economy," said Curt Zimmerman, with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. "Some have tie-stalls and some have parlors. There are a variety of operations on the state's 4,800 farms and the majority of them are dairy farms run by families who've stayed in the industry for the long term."

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