High feed cost and low profit margins are challenging dairy farmers to do more with less, says Roger Betz, Michigan State University district extension farm management agent. A tool created by Michigan State University extension can help you evaluate and manage cash flow.

To use, input your specific financial and milk-production information each month. You use your monthly projected milking cow numbers, projected milk prices and projected cash expenses and loan payments along with other incomes. The program will then give you future cash-flow needs and potential shortfalls.

Use these data to make adjustments, plan for capital improvements or for discussions with lenders. As time goes forward, you can input your actual monthly numbers to monitor and adjust your projections.

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