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Management

Manage dairy employees, establish farm protocols, take on milk marketing, and become more confident in your farm financials.

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Jerry Gonterman understands security. He installs and maintains security systems for school districts, Intermountain convenience stores and state liquor stores. In addition to protecting kids, gasoline and alcohol, Gonterman watches over milk tanks and parlors.

“A dairyman’s worst fear is a hot tank of milk,” Gonterman says.

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I recently chatted with Dr. Danelle Bickett-Weddle of the Center for Food Security and Public Health in Ames, Iowa. Bickett-Weddle helped develop a questionnaire for dairy producers to assess the biosecurity risks on their operations. Her current doctoral research is looking for correlations between risk management practices and production parameters. She hopes her current research will help dairy producers identify risk areas that, when improved, lead to increased profitability. The following is a portion of my interview with her.

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Editor’s note: The following is the second of a two-part series discussing basic financial statements and analysis tools.

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I have been a Spanish teacher for 20 years. A while ago, I was asked to help local dairy producers with their Mexican employees. I started working and have never, ever looked back. I love what I do. As I gain experience in this world of milking cows, scraping estiércol (es-dee-air-col) or manure and pushing up feed, I am beginning to form an image of what makes a good patrón (pa-drone) or boss.

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Marketing is becoming an important tool to help dairy producers reach maximum profitability. I interviewed Scott Stewart who recently wrote a book, New Times, New Rules – Take Control of Your Farm Marketing, about agriculture marketing. I asked him how dairy producers should approach marketing and how agriculture markets have changed in the last 25 years.

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Today it takes more than hard work to operate a profitable dairy. Financial measurements help make it possible to not only understand and measure but to sustain profitability despite expense rates that have risen from 50 percent of gross income in 1980 to 70 to 80 percent of gross income today.

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