Extension Specialists Team Up to Assist Mid-Iowa Dairy Alliance

Chris Mondak, Dairy Field Specialist and Abbie Gaffey, Community and Economic Development Specialist, Northwest Area

Problem Statement:

Coordinators of the Mid-Iowa Dairy Alliance, a group of economic developers from a nine-county region in North Central Iowa, requested participation of ISU Extension specialists at a meeting to troubleshoot an impasse in their group’s progress towards their overall goals of attracting new dairy farming operations and processing facilities.

Programmatic Response:

Realizing the multiple facets of the group’s goals, Extension specialists suggested a team approach involving a Dairy Specialist and a Community & Economic Development Specialist to the Mid-Iowa Dairy Alliance group.  The work performed with this group happened in two phases:

Phase 1 was a brainstorming meeting/troubleshooting meeting with Mid-Iowa group’s leaders. At this meeting, Extension specialists assisted by helping the group define and clearly state their immediate and long-term goals and to prepare a plan to address their immediate goal through a focus group session with regional leaders.

Phase 2 was preparation and facilitation of the Focus Group session with regional leaders. This involved assisting with agenda planning, preparation of a panel discussion, and selection of speakers to address key topics, as well coordinating and facilitating a small group/large group goal-setting and action planning discussion focusing on two key questions:


The Focus Group morning session provided useful information to the invited participants about modern dairy farm operations, challenges and priorities of modern dairy owners, and economic impacts of dairy farms on the local/regional economy.

With the information from the morning session as background, the afternoon work group sessions were productive and yielded useful information to the Mid-Iowa Dairy Alliance leaders.

Answers to the question “What would be benefits of a dairy initiative, and how do we make that happen?” included:

Answers to the questions “What challenges do you see? What Opportunities excite you?” included:

An additional positive impact/outcome from the Focus Group meeting was that it created interest and commitment for stakeholders’ time involvement and contribution of funds:  23 of 24 participants indicated willingness to commit time to create a dairy development plan, and 16 of 24 participants indicated willingness to provide financial support.


110 – Dairy

Page last updated: April 11, 2008
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