June 22, 2009

Note: Reporters interested in profiling NNY farmers that piloted successful Dairy Profit Teams may contact Cornell Cooperative Extension or Jefferson County Agricultural Coordinator Jay Matteson for assistance. See contacts at end of page.

Start a Dairy Profit Team Now – NNY Farming Resources Ready to Help

Northern New York – What to do until milk prices recover Brainstorming ideas and developing options to meet the challenges and opportunities facing dairy farmers is what Dairy Profit Teams are all about. The Cornell Cooperative Extension Associations of Northern New York, the farmer-led Northern New York Agricultural Development Program, and Jefferson County Agricultural Development Corporation are encouraging North Country farmers to form teams with cost-sharing help from the NY Center for Dairy Excellence.

And they are encouraging them to form teams now.

Two-year-old Dairy Profit Teams operating on farms in NY’s Jefferson and Madison counties, younger teams advising Western NY dairy farms, and longer-term teams in Minnesota and Pennsylvania report results ranging from decreasing calf mortality and improved internal herd growth to a building more efficient dairy facilities, reducing costs and successful transfer of farms to younger family members.

“The NY Center for Dairy Excellence has launched a program for farmers to develop their own Dairy Profit Team of trusted advisors to work out a plan for their future and is offering $2,400 per farm in start-up funding. Applications are considered on a rolling basis while funding lasts, so North Country farmers need to apply now,” says Cornell Cooperative Extension of Essex County Executive Director Anita Deming.

Dairy educator Frans Vokey with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Lewis County says, “Farmers like utilizing teams even now - during the busy crop season - because they save time and can speed up quality decision-making, especially when field work - a top priority - sometime displaces management time. Teams can help farmers carve out valuable ‘management’ time during the busy season by combining individual meetings with advisors into one productive meeting.”

The NY Center for Dairy Excellence operates under the auspices of the New York Farm Viability Institute. Its Dairy Profit Team project is now expanding statewide after a successful pilot project launched in late 2007 with funding from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Center Director Mark Kenville says, “We believe Dairy Profit Teams can help farms implement cost-savings and profit-generating strategies.”

A Dairy Profit Team typically consists of up to five consultants and a facilitator, who manages the process, sets up meetings, tracks progress and keeps the team on task. Team members may be crop consultants, veterinarians, feed dealers, bankers and others with a vested interest in the success of the farm. The farm owners are the final decision makers.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County Executive Director Carl Tillinghast says, “Cornell Cooperative Extension and many agribusiness personnel throughout the Northern New York region are ready to support those who form teams with the NY Center for Dairy Excellence or on their own.”

Vokey says, “Working closely with your service providers can be more than a good defensive strategy for dairy farmers. The input you receive from these professionals – who have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share - may fill an immediate need by helping to increase next month’s cash flow while at the same time building strategies to help your farm business thrive in the long run.”

The 15 dairy farmers and seven agribusiness representatives of the Jefferson County Dairy Focus Group prompted the idea of starting Dairy Profit Teams in New York.

Jefferson County Agricultural Coordinator Jay Matteson says, “Jefferson County was pleased to pilot the Dairy Profit Teams project which is now being offered to farmers statewide. Our farmers are pleased with the results and we recommend the team concept to others.”

Dave and Lisa Magos of Morning Star Farms in Henderson, NY, have recently been profiled in Farming, the Journal of Northeast Agriculture. In the article, Lisa says, “(Having a Dairy Profit Team) has definitely been a positive experience for us and I am sure it would be helpful to others, especially in the dairy industry’s current financial situation.”

Deming adds, “The opportunity through the New York Center for Dairy Excellence is available now and we encourage North Country farmers to take heed and act now by completing the online application for a Dairy Profit Team.”

The one-page Dairy Profit Team application is online at http://www.nycde.org. Farmers not online or who would like help completing the form may contact their local Extension office. #

NNY Cornell Cooperative Extension Associations:
Clinton/Essex County: 518-962-4810 x409 – Anita Deming
Franklin: 518-483-7403 – Carl Tillinghast
Jefferson: 315-788-8450 – Ron Kuck
Lewis: 315-376-5270 – Frans Vokey
St. Lawrence: 315-379-9192 – Brent Buchanan

Northern New York Agricultural Development Program Co-Chairs:
Jon Greenwood, Canton, NY: 315-386-3231
Joe Giroux, Plattsburgh, NY: 518-563-4730 (M-F days)

Jefferson County Agricultural Development Corporation:
Jay Matteson: 315-782-1806

NY Center for Dairy Excellence, Syracuse, NY:
Mark Kenville: 315-483-3823