As 2001 dawns I propose we all take some time to think about the changes to come in 2001, and the future of the dairy industry in Ohio.
As you all know, this is a challenging time for dairy farmers. Depressed milk prices are not expected to improve in 2001. This will be a year to hang tough and to keep costs under control.
I’m not going to suggest you make a long list of New Year’s resolutions. I think one is enough; be what the Japanese call The Wise Bamboo.
Joan Lunden, in her book entitled Wake-Up Calls, suggests the Japanese adage which means: learn to bend so you don’t break. Be flexible and pick carefully the battles you want to fight.
I believe every one of our dairy farm managers has many things he or she does well. Things that are going well should serve as the foundation for improvement of the rest of the management program.
I suggest you take steps to find out what your weakest management areas are and work on these first.
In order to figure out which areas you should concentrate on first, you need to know how you are doing relative to good managers on other dairy farms. Knowledge is power.
The more you know about how your business is doing, the sooner you can figure out which areas need help. Look at costs of production for crops, replacement heifers and milk.
When you find areas where costs appear to be out of line, take immediate action to CHANGE the situation.
Take advantage of proven advances in management and productivity. Make certain the details of dairy cow nutrition, cow comfort and cost control are explained to and implemented by the entire management team.
Rely on good consultants and experts for management advice.
If you are not sure where to start, ask your veterinarian, crop consultant, extension agent or accountant for help. Ask for suggestions from every member of your management team.
When you find problems, take IMMEDIATE steps to correct them. Do not be afraid to change. Change is inevitable. Those who change to take advantage of opportunity will profit and survive. The rest will soon be doing something else.
(The author is an agricultural extension agent in Columbiana County. Questions or comments can be sent in care of Farm and Dairy, P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460; or firstname.lastname@example.org)