The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has expanded the state’s Dairy Profit Team program.

The project is designed to help improve the success of dairy farms by focusing on production and operational finances. It began with 10 farms during the initial pilot phase in 2004, and 17 farms were added this spring. The goal is to add 40 farms per year through 2008.

Once accepted into the program, farms assemble a “profit team”. The six-to-eight-member team often includes the farm owner, key family/management individuals, veterinarian, nutritionist, lender and accountant.

In the short-term, the team targets areas to improve efficiency and increase profits. In the long-term, they set multi-year goals and implement changes needed to achieve the goals — like milk quality improvement, milk production, better forage quality, transition cow programs to reduce metabolic disorders or expansion of the dairy to take advantage of economies of scale.

Profit teams look at how they might manage the farm business differently to maximize income and efficiency, versus making large financial investments in the business, says Gary Heckman, executive director of the Center for Dairy Excellence. “We’ve found that by setting goals and making better business decisions, farms participating in the teams are seeing tangible results.”

The improvements seem to have a ripple effect, notes Dennis Wolff, Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture. Participating producers often share their experience with neighbors, who then adopt the practices. “Then, service professionals, after learning about new ways to approach problems, share and implement these methods on other farms,” he says. “This helps to spread the benefits far beyond the original profit team farms.”

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture