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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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The grain market began the month of April by processing the March 28 USDA Prospective Plantings and Quarterly Stocks reports. The reports caught many off-guard. Cumulatively, corn and soybean acres were estimated at 177 million acres, 3 million acres fewer than the 2017 season.

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Labor issues were critical topics both on the agenda and in conversations throughout the High Plains Dairy Conference in Amarillo, Texas, March 6 and 7, 2018. More than 300 dairy producers, industry personnel and university staff gathered for the event.

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Without a doubt, you’ve read a half-dozen or more articles in the past several months about managing your dairy operation during periods of low margins. I initially thought this would be another of those articles; however, I’ve changed my mind and decided to offer a different message.

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Like many of you, I attend many dairy meetings and am fortunate to have the opportunity to speak at many of them. In my interactions with dairy farmers and other industry people at these meetings, I find there is not a good understanding of what is happening with demand for dairy products.

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With milk market availability no longer a certainty, many producers are wondering how they can make their operations attractive for a direct supply contract. For the first 20 years of my career, I worked for consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies.

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Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article stated that Walt Coleman is a dairy farmer and owner of Hiland Dairy. This version has been updated to clarify Coleman’s role in the dairy industry. Progressive Dairyman regrets the errors.

There are two major passions for Walt Coleman of Little Rock, Arkansas: dairy farming and football.

Coleman was a fifth-generation dairy farmer, part of the Coleman Dairy Company, which became a division of Hiland Dairy Foods – headquartered in Missouri – in 2006. He’s now a controller with Hiland Dairy. Coleman is also a nearly 30-year veteran of NFL officiating, making him the longest current tenured referee in the league. As a result, Coleman has had no shortage of experience working in high-pressure environments – or in being criticized for his actions while doing so.

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