Pennsylvania producers get help to identify profitability bottlenecks

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Extension dairy educators create program to increase the profitability of state’s dairies.

This winter, Penn State Extension will present “Identifying the Bottlenecks to Higher Dairy Profitability,” a two-step educational program that will help Pennsylvania dairy producers look at their whole farm system and identify the bottlenecks in their operations that hinder profitability.

The program focuses on the use of the new Dairy Profitability Risk Assessment Tool — DairyPRAT. This tool looks at the whole farm operation and identifies priorities for change, explains Lisa Holden, Penn State University associate professor of dairy and animal science. “DairyPRAT can help advisers and producers begin a process to identify the most costly bottlenecks in a dairy operation,” she adds.

“The (DairyPRAT) tool was able to specifically identify a problem that we thought was there, but could not necessarily identify ourselves,” says Tim Forry, partner at Oregon Dairy Farm LLC, Lititz, Pa., one of the test farms. “The information was useful for working with our advisory team. Because of the volume of information, the tool provided a much more comprehensive picture of the strengths and weaknesses of the operation than could be caught in a monthly advisory team meeting.”

Developers say the tool can “show you the money,” including the areas of greatest loss and opportunity for improving a dairy’s bottom line. Using benchmark information, the tool pinpoints risk areas that are negatively impacting profitability. It gives advisers and producers a “big picture” view of the dairy operation.

“What makes this program unique is its two-step, hands-on process,” said Mark Douglass, Jefferson County cooperative extension educator.

Step one is a workshop that teaches advisers and producers how to use DairyPRAT to systematically identify the factors on their own dairies that are preventing them from achieving a better bottom line. Step two is a series of workshops that offer solutions to the bottlenecks uncovered in step one.

The Penn State Dairy Extension Bottlenecks Program begins this winter with two workshops — one aimed at agribusiness advisers and another for producers.

Agribusiness personnel are invited to “Identifying the Bottlenecks to Higher Dairy Profitability: Agribusiness Advisers’ Workshop” on December 13 - 14, at the Ramada Inn, State College, Pa. Created specifically for advisers, the workshop will demonstrate how to use DairyPRAT in conjunction with clients. It will provide an explanation of DairyPRAT and demonstrate its application at a local dairy farm.

Producers are invited to “Identifying the Bottlenecks to Higher Dairy Profitability: Producers’ Workshop”, which will be offered at six sites across the Commonwealth January through February 2006. The schedule is:

First offering — Jan. 18 (Day 1) and Feb. 15 (Day 2):

  • Dauphin County: Penn State Harrisburg, Middletown, Pa.
  • Bradford County: Blast Intermediate Unit, Canton, Pa.
  • Somerset County: Ag Service Center, Somerset, Pa.

Second offering—Jan. 19 (Day 1) and Feb. 22 (Day 2):

  • Mercer County: Mercer County Cooperative Extension Office, Mercer, Pa.
  • Blair County: Spring Cove Middle School, Roaring Spring, Pa.
  • Franklin County: Franklin County Extension Office, Chambersburg, Pa.

During the two-day workshop, producers will visit a case study farm for a hands-on demonstration about how to use DairyPRAT. Producers also will use the tool with their farm data and learn how to customize their own action plan to achieve better profitability.

To register for either conference, go to: www.conferences.cas.psu.edu   Or call Penn State’s Office of Conferences and Short Courses at (877) 778-2937, or e-mail: shortcourse@psu.edu

For more information, go to: http://dairybottlenecks.extension.psu.edu Or contact Bradley Hilty, information management specialist, Penn State Dairy Alliance, at (888) 373-7323. E-mail Hilty at: BHilty@psu.edu

As a follow up to these workshops, additional extension workshops designed to address specific dairy bottlenecks will be launched in spring 2006. These workshops will focus on milk quality, nutrient management, and reproduction. Future programs will focus on business management, feeding and forage management, and herd health. More information on these will be announced as it becomes available.

Source: Penn State University



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