Workshop Introduces Dairy Producers to Strategic Business Planning

Chris Mondak, dairy field specialist
Ron Hook, farm management field specialist

Situation
Recognizing the positive economic impact that dairy farming has on the region‚s economy, ISU Extension workers teamed up with Extension colleagues in the tri-state area including NW Iowa, SW Minnesota, and SE South Dakota to offer information that would enhance local family-owned dairies‚ chances for profitability and longevity.

Response
Many family farm operators are challenged to simply get all necessary herd and field work chores done daily, and consequently run out of time and energy to adequately pursue information about business analysis and planning tasks that should be done. Therefore, Extension workers in the tri-state area planned a workshop to introduce producers to the concept and importance of strategic planning. These workers acquired sponsorship contributions to fund the cost of an expert in this field to serve as the featured speaker. Planning efforts culminated in the a half-day workshop, Steering Your Farm to the Future: Where do you want your dairy to be in 10 years?, which presented the concepts of setting goals, listing priorities, knowing the economics involved, evaluating alternatives, and making an action plan.

Impact
Fifty dairy producers attended the workshop, most coming as couples and co-owner-operators of their family farms. At the end of the meeting, 25 evaluation forms were completed and turned in. Participants rated the workshop favorably, 25 responded that the session gave them a clearer understanding of the strategic planning process, 25 marked that the workshop gave them take home information to apply within 1-3 months, 24 of 25 marked that they received information to apply in 1-2 years, and all marked that the workshop information would improve the strength of their dairy operation.

The evaluation form also included survey questions to determine from the audience the specific topics they would like to pursue as follow-up work, and the method(s) or activities of choice (small-group focused workshop (11 responses), week-end focused retreat (6 responses), or one-on-one session with financial consultant (18 responses).

Planning for timely follow-up activities is underway.Page last updated: July 9, 2006
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu