MADISON - A course looking at options to better control dairy profitability will be offered in May 1-3, just as several Wisconsin dairies may no longer have a market for their milk.
Although the course—Making More From Milk--was planned over a year before the cooperatives announced their decisions to no longer collect milk, the course organizers were struck by the timing—and felt an immediate empathy for these producers.
“It’s just not the situation any dairy producer wants to be in,” said Jill Stahl Tyler of Global Cow. “We know people with more power to help are working on the situation—and we really hope that they come to a good solution for everyone affected. But,” she added, “we wanted to reach out, too. Perhaps it’s not a lot, but we thought we’d offer a discount to these producers for our course that’s coming up.”
The course, “Making More From Milk” is offered through a partnership between two companies: Madison-based Global Dairy Outreach, and Global Cow, based in Brattleboro, VT. Both have worked with Wisconsin dairy producers for the last two decades.
“The discount of $100 is a small gesture aimed to try to help the dairyman as they think through their options,” explained Jill Stahl Tyler of Global Cow. “We know that many of them have been dairying for all of their lives, and that this is their way of life and their business.”
Karen Nielsen, Global Dairy Outreach, agreed. “It’s a really difficult position that they are in right now, through no fault of their own. Maybe this course will help spark a new direction that makes sense for someone, give them a few ideas.”
The course, ‘Making More From Milk’, focuses on branching out from producing only a commodity, milk, and trying to better control the final price the dairyman receives for his labors.
It starts with an overview of what the term ‘valued-added dairy’ means, Stahl Tyler noted. “Then we get into the fun stuff,” she said. “An expert in marketing will talk about how a specific farm can look for their own special stories to help connect with consumers. We’ll visit a couple of specialty retailers, to hear what they look for in products and they market. We also will go over food safety, business planning, and equipment and supply needs.”
“The best part of the course,” said Karen Nielsen of Global Dairy Outreach, “is the farm visits and discussions, with producers who have already made the leap into value-added dairying. We have lined up goat, cow and sheep producers to share their experiences, to show us what they think works well—and what others might avoid.”
“Making More From Milk” begins on Monday, May 1, with classes in the morning, followed by “behind-the-scenes” retail visits. Tuesday, May 2, is a full day of on-farm learning. Wednesday, May 3, concludes course with presentations—and a “wrap-up”. The three-day event will be held at Comfort Inn, 4822 E. Washington Ave., Madison.
“We want people to leave knowing what their next steps are,” Nielsen emphasized.
An optional fourth day, on May 4, offers the opportunity to make cheese or cottage cheese in small group settings.