The Manager - November 2020

Ahead of the curve: Assure dairy buyers and consumers about your social responsibility with farm employees

Richard Stup

Today’s consumer is increasingly aware and concerned about how the workers who produce the products they buy are treated. They want to know that farm owners and managers treat employees in a socially responsible way. Dairy farms are under particular scrutiny because of the long work hours and large numbers of foreign-born employees prevalent in the industry. At this time at least three dairy-focused programs seek to set standards for socially responsible employee management in the dairy industry.

Rising HR professionalism: Highly skilled strategic approaches for the long-term future

Julie Berry and Richard Stup

Farm labor used to be about hiring the next person to help when the business was short-handed, but that approach doesn’t work now, and it also won’t in the future as hiring and retaining labor becomes increasingly competitive. Today’s leading farm managers see human resources as the most vital part of sustained success. Without the right people nothing else can be accomplished. The future belongs to farmers who take a strategic approach to hiring and developing high-performing team members. Nate Richard, Owner, Scattered Acres Farms and Roaring Creek Egg Farms in Pennsylvania, and Crystal Grimaldi, Office and HR Manager at Ideal Dairy Farms in New York State, owned and operated by the Dickinson, Getty and Grimaldi families, share their perspectives.

Should I use risk management tools? Evaluate your financial risk

Christopher Wolf and Jason Karszes

With the volatility in milk prices this year, many questions have been asked by dairy producers about whether or not they should use available tools to potentially minimize the risk associated with negative milk price moves. As producers think about this question, evaluating and understanding the financial risk of the business is one area to evaluate. Higher financial risk can indicate that it is important to manage milk price risk but will not tell you how or how much management is required.

Factors associated with variations in earnings

Comparison of selected measures and costs by quartile of earnings

155 Dairy Farms, New York State, 2019

Jason Karszes

The 2019 year was a rebound in earnings from 2018 for farms that participate in the Dairy Farm Business Summary and Analysis Program. The average rate of return on capital without appreciation increased from 1.1 percent in 2018 to 5.6 percent in 2019. While the average increased, variation continued to be wide in earnings. With 155 farms completed for 2019, the data was sorted by quartile of earnings, as measured by rate of return on all capital without appreciation. The following tables contain selected measures and costs associated with the four quartiles of farms and can be used to see differences across the farms. The lowest quartile of farms averaged -1.1 percent rate of return on all capital without appreciation, with the second quartile averaging 3.1 percent, the third quartile earning 5.5 percent, and the highest quartile of farms earning 8.8 percent. 

Transforming a black swan into a phoenix

David Kohl

The year 2020 has been one for the record books concerning major business disruptors that have caused economic and emotional stress. The COVID-19 pandemic, wildfires, extreme weather, and other global events, are black swans or unusual aspects that are creating an environment that is quite the opposite of “business as usual”. Coupled with uncertainty surrounding people's health, the loss of milk markets in some areas, and the normal everyday adverse events such as sick cows, many would like to put 2020 in the rearview mirror!

Food waste in digesters

Peter Wright and Curt Gooch

Forty percent of food in this country is wasted. At the same time, nearly 2.8 million New Yorkers struggle to have enough to eat. Food also makes up 18 percent of New York State solid waste stream filling up landfills. The vast majority of this food is disposed of in landfills where it anaerobically decomposes, producing and releasing methane (CH4), a potent greenhouse gas (GHG) with a global warming potential of about 34 times that of carbon dioxide (CO2). When food is landfilled or otherwise wasted, all the energy, water, nutrients, and labor it took to produce that food is wasted. If global food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of GHG after the United States and China. Several states including New York State have initiated regulations to recycle food waste.

Manure management to reduce greenhouse gases: What can dairy farms do?

Peter Wright and Curt Gooch

Concern is worldwide about how to control the anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. GHGs include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O), and are expressed as CO2 equivalents (CO2 eq.). On a 100-year basis, CH4 is 34 times as potent as CO2, while N2O is 298 times as potent as CO2, according to a 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. CO2 eq. is referred to as the global warming potential (GWP) of these gases.