HARRISBURG, Pa. — Dairy producers and dairy industry professionals are invited to one of six free roundtable meetings being held across Pennsylvania this November. Hosted by the Center for Dairy Excellence in partnership with the Penn State Cooperative Extension Dairy Team, the events will be focused on business planning for dairy operations.

Attendees will receive a business planning template and learn the steps involved in developing a plan—including identifying the history of the dairy operation, outlining the current business situation, creating mission and vision statements, setting clear goals and parameters, analyzing the farm’s marketing situation, and brainstorming transition or planned exit strategies.

“A well-written business plan outlines your dairy farm’s history and identifies your goals and objectives for the future. If business plan objectives include things like expansions or diversifying that require loans, a clear plan that includes financial analysis can also help prove to lenders that you have thought through all aspects of the change,” said Zach Myers, Risk Education Manager at the Center for Dairy Excellence. “During the roundtable meetings, we’ll show you how to get started with business planning and provide a forum where attendees can learn from one another and share ideas.”

The roundtable meetings will be held in six counties across Pennsylvania and include a free meal followed by discussion. Advanced registration is encouraged at www.centerfordairyexcellence.org/roundtable or call 717-346-0849.

The Business Planning Roundtable Meetings will be held on the following dates and locations:

  • Friday, November 5 from 8:30-11 a.m. – Lancaster County
    Lancaster Farm & Home Center (1383 Arcadia Rd, Lancaster, PA  17601)
  • Tuesday, November 9 from 8:30-11a.m. – Northumberland County
    Good Wil’s Restaurant (24 Weaver Lane, Milton, PA 17847)
  • Tuesday, November 9 from 1-3:30 p.m. – Tioga County
    Lambs Creek Food & Spirits (200 Gateway Dr, Mansfield, PA 16933)
  • Tuesday, November 16 from 8-10:30 a.m. – Blair County
    Bistro at the Village Green (403 Village Way, Martinsburg, PA 16662)
  • Tuesday, November 16 from 1-3:30 p.m. – Mercer County
    Hoss’s Steak & Sea House (1948 Leesburg Grove City Rd, Grove City, PA 16127)
  • Thursday, November 18 from 12-2:30 p.m. – Franklin County
    Hoss’s Steak & Sea House (20 Falling Spring Rd, Chambersburg, PA 17202)

Several Pennsylvania dairy producers and their consultants have found business planning helpful during the following situations:

  • Identifying clear parameters for investments in new technology. “We definitely found out where our edge is. I would have hated to start this robotic milking project and then realized all of a sudden we need to cut out certain aspects. Now we know how far we can go and how many extra things we can add to this barn.” –Donny Bartch of Merrimart Farms in Perry County, Pa.
  • Crunching the numbers to determine viability of new projects. “The transformation team helped us to secure a grant, which helped us address some manure run-off concerns on the farm. We also did some number crunching on our old step-up parlor, which was 16 years old at that point. We realized by saving time in employee labor, we could pay the debt service on a newly constructed parlor.” –Andy Bollinger of Meadow Spring Farm in Lancaster County, Pa.
  • Planning for how to venture into the value-added space. “We put together a plan for what a cheese business plan would look like from a creamery point of view. We analyzed what the physical plant would need to look like, the cost of the items in the physical plant, the types of products we could produce, and what we should expect for labor costs.” –Jason Frye, Pleasant Lane Farms, Westmoreland County, Pa.

To register for a roundtable meeting, visit www.centerfordairyexcellence.org/roundtable or contact Heidi Zimmerman at hzimmerman1@centerfordairyexcellence.org or 717-346-0849.

–Emily Barge, Center for Dairy Excellence