Survey: Financial status

In preparation for the November 2009 editions of Western DairyBusiness (WDB) and Eastern DairyBusiness (EDB), editors surveyed dairy producers on how their financial situations impacted their businesses in 2009, and what plans they were making entering 2010.

Herd sizes of survey respondents ranged from 100 to 6,000 cows (WDB); and 55 to 1,400 cows (EDB). As in previous surveys, there were some regional differences.

First, we asked producers which areas of their enterprise suffered under the financial strain of 2009. Included on the list were: calf/heifer management, environmental management, herd health, reproduction, milk quality, milk quantity, feed/feeding management, risk management (inputs), risk management (marketing milk) and quality of labor. While all areas received votes, milk quantity and feed/feeding management received the most responses from EDB readers; calf/heifer management and risk management/inputs were cited most often by WDB readers.

When asked to identify the single area that suffered the most, EDB readers cited milk quantity; WDB readers identified feed/feeding management.

We asked producers where they would invest money in 2010. Paying down debt and rebuilding equity were on the low end of the scale; investing in land and increasing hired labor rated highest in both regions, perhaps to correct areas before they can pay down debt and improve the balance sheet. The next investment tier included environmental/manure management and milking parlor/systems (EDB); and milking parlors/systems and technology to reduce labor (WDB).

When asked to identify areas where they would focus more management in 2010, labor and environmental/manure management topped both regional lists.

Finally, we asked producers to identify topics they’d like to read more about. They overwhelmingly identified marketing and risk management.

Congratulations to Maureen Baginski, dairy producer from Othello, Wash., who was drawn as the winner of the $100 VISA gift card from all those completing the online survey.