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Conference Name Holistic Management and Risk Assessment Workshops for Dairy Farmers in the Southern Region

Gonzalo Ferreira

Summary

Dairy farming can be (wrongly) considered a lifestyle more than a business. It is not unusual for dairy farmers to have long and exciting discussions about the quality of their cows, how difficult it is to milk a cow with mastitis, or about how well crops are performing. However, when asked about their business management, farmers frequently do not dominate or understand these concepts. Helping farmers build a holistic management strategy will help them to successfully manage their agricultural operations through periods of high risk, volatility, and financial stress. Therefore, for this extension project we delivered educational workshops about dairy enterprise management to farmers, extension agents, and loan officers. For this extension project 50 farmers, extension agents, and loan officers discussed strategic business plans, including concepts like vision, mission, and goal statements. The attendants also calculated key financial indicators, such as solvency, liquidity, return over assets, and break-even milk price, among other topics. Finally, farmers discussed the importance of building a transition plan for the operations. These workshops were interactive, with short presentations and hands-on exercises using spreadsheets with real examples. The impact of this project can be viewed from its metrics and from the evaluations. From its metrics, 50 attendants learned how to calculate, analyze, and interpret several key financial indicators. From the evaluations after the workshop, comments such as “The best workshop I ever attended” or “I wish I would have attended this workshop in 2013” nicely reflect the success of the workshop.

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