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Making Better Dairy Farmers

Dairy Sen$e Conference Teaches Young People the Business Side of Dairy Farming

By Amanda Brodhagen,

Balancing the books is an important skill for any successful farm business, especially when it comes to dairy farming. And that’s why 4-H Ontario and the Ontario Holstein Branch came together to develop a workshop aimed at providing young people with more information about the logistics of managing a successful dairy operation.

The program which has been running for five years, was recently held at the University of Guelph from May 1 to 3, 2014. Young people from across the province aged 18 to 25 gathered to take part in the three day conference.

“We’re really trying to make sure the Dairy Sen$e program gives them some practical and financial knowledge that they can take home and use in their own operation,” Jason French, General Manager, for the Ontario Holstein Branch said in a release.

Participants listened to presentations from industry experts and then were able to apply the skills that they learned in a case study format. One of those presentations was from “We were able to provide business advice from a human resources perspective to young farmers in the dairy industry,” Carolyn Lee, Account Manager said in an interview.

The 4-H motto of “Learn to do by Doing” was the approach taken with the workshop. On the final day of the conference, attendees were given a case study project and asked to analyze four farms, and offer recommendations on how these farms could improve their operations.

Members were divided in groups of three, with a total of 10 teams. Each team was given 12-pages of information on each of the four farms, including material on debt capacity, cash flow, income statements and production numbers.

Kathleen Baird, 24, was part of the winning team. She explained that the conference helped her expand on the knowledge that she learned while attending Ridgetown College.

“The nice thing about the case study exercise is that it allowed us to apply the information that we had learned earlier,” she said.

Baird works full time at Craigcrest Holsteins, in Arthur, Ont.

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