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Your questions answered here

Published on 19 January 2010

Just before the end of 2009, I received several communications from readers asking specific questions about issues that were important to them.

These readers asked for articles to help them find answers to difficult questions about the profitability and efficiency of their businesses as they headed into the new year.

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We went to work finding experts to answer these top-of-mind concerns. We deliver you three solution-driven articles this issue, with more to come in future issues.

Forward contracting
Last year’s dismal milk prices got many producers thinking about forward contracting their milk prices. At the bottom of the milk price trough, I spoke with one forward contracting broker who said he had an inbox filled several inches thick with applications from dairy producers.

Much of that interest, he said, would fade away once prices improved. Since then, mailbox prices have improved. Yet for those still interested in using forward contracts for feed and milk pricing, we introduce a new series of articles in this issue.

What you will read will be similar to a reality TV story-line, but without all the useless drama. I would like to thank the main characters, Dave Geiser and Deb Reinhart from Wisconsin, for their willingness to let us observe their milk marketing efforts in 2010.

They will start from the very beginning and share with readers the step-by-step risk management decisions they are making. I believe the new series will give confidence to more producers who want to do more to get in control of their business.

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Managing your dairy
Dairy management remains one of our readers’ most requested article topics. That’s the theme of this issue. One reader recently asked us to give some advice about who and what to pay first as milk prices move back to breakeven or above.

Also, many of you are interested in improving your employee management and human resource skills. Read about how to better communicate ("Effective communication for the progressive dairy producer") and what to do in tough situations when dealing with employee compensation ("What to do when a milker wants a higher starting wage").

The question Gregorio Billikopf, a labor management expert with UC-Davis, answers in this issue was asked by an Idaho dairy producer during a seminar we held last year. If you have management-related questions, please forward them to us. We’d like to help you answer them in future issues.

Supply management

Finally, we promised last issue to deliver a commentary in opposition to supply management. See the PD Poll for our make-good on that commitment. The author is a New York dairyman who moved from Canada to the U.S. to escape Canada’s quota system. He offers some basic reasons explaining why he moved his business and why he opposes supply management here in the U.S. Who better to talk about the benefits and downsides of supply management than a dairyman who has produced under its constraints?

This issue is definitely worth an hour of your time, which is what most of you tell us is the amount of time you spend with the magazine each issue. Thank you for your time. PD

Walt Cooley
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