Workshops look at changing business model to increase farmers’ profits

Wisconsin Farmers Union
Wisconsin Farmers Union

Due to the volatility of commodity dairy prices, many farmers are turning to value-added enterprises as an avenue for their farm to survive and thrive into the future. Have you thought about processing your own milk, cheese, yogurt or ice cream? How would you go about changing your business model, marketing and making your own product?

Several upcoming workshops will walk farmers through the process of venturing into value-added enterprises.

Adding Value to Your Farm: Exploring On-Farm Dairy Processing will be offered from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on March 27, at the Best Western, 100 Spring St., River Falls.

This event will feature nuts and bolts of early business planning including processing practicalities, building a farm-based dairy business, and advice from Farmers Union members who are making and marketing food products from cow and goat milk. WFU panelists include Meg Wittenmyer of Bifrost Farms, Josh Bryceson and Rama Hoffpauir of Cosmic Wheel Creamery, and Theresa Depies of Springbrook Dairy. Michelle Farner, Dairy Pilot Plot Manager from UW-River Falls, and Norm Monsen, a Market Development Specialist at the State of Wisconsin will also be featured.

The program cost is $15 per person at the door. UW-Extension and Wisconsin Farmers Union have teamed up to offer this workshop. Details and registration:

Making More From Milk is multi-day experience offered by Global Cow and Global Dairy Outreach. It includes visits to processors and retailers, marketing seminars, and step-by-step cheese making. Tour stops will include LaClare Family Creamery (Malone, WI), Kelley’s Country Creamery (Fond du Lac, WI) and Sassy Cow Creamery (Columbus, WI). The workshop also offers Spanish translation.

The event is April 23 - 25 in Madison and costs $495/person. An additional cheese making workshop with Cesar Luis at Cesar’s Cheese in Gibbsville on Friday, April 26 is $200 per person. WFU will sponsor three $495 scholarships for members to attend.

This year, the WFU Board of Directors determined three scholarships would be distributed with a limit of reimbursable participant support at $495 per participant with first-time attendees given first choice and others based on scholarship availability. 

For more information about scholarships, contact WFU at 715-723-5561. Details and registration:

Begin a Farmstead Micro-Creamery, a May 23 field day in Clear Lake, will focus on what it takes to start and operate a successful on-farm creamery. This free event, hosted by MOSES, will cover start-up considerations, the art of making artisan cheeses, legalities and marketing, and seasonal milking.

Wisconsin Farmers Union members Josh Bryceson and Rama Hoffpauir of Cosmic Wheel Creamery are an example of farmers developing a unique system to distance themselves from the commodity market. They will share their experience with this production model and give other producers a farmer’s-eye-view of the process they went through and what they learned along the way.

Details and registration: