January 31, 2006

AEM Report Sizes Up N.Y. Farms

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The Department of Applied Economics and Management recently published the 2004 Dairy Farm Management Business Summaries, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the business project. The 11-volume summaries are primarily the collaborative work of Prof. Wayne Knoblauch and extension support specialist Linda Putnam, applied economics and management, and senior extension associate Jason Karszes, animal science.

The summaries “help farm managers improve the business and financial management of their dairy farms through appropriate use of historical farm data and the application of modern farm business analysis techniques,” according to the Cornell Cooperative Extension website. The Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE), which promotes the project, is an educational system that aims to use research in order to advance New York State communities.

The summaries provide a compilation of data about dairy farming through tables, charts, figures, case studies and glossaries. The information for the project was gained through approximately 300 dairy farms that participated in the 2004 report.

Even though the content of the 11 volumes is varied, all of the summaries attempt to address the important issues facing the dairy farm industry. For example, the main 90-page report, entitled “Business Summary New York State,” analyzes farms statewide, while another report, “Intensive Grazing Farms,” focuses on only 30.

“The farms in the project averaged 334 cows per farm and 22,070 pounds of milk sold per cow, which represent above average size and management level for New York dairy farms,” the main report states.

Additionally, the volumes compare farm sizes. One volume entitled “Large Herd Farms, 300 Cows or Larger” discusses farms with large herds, and another volume, “Small Herd Farms, 80 Cows or Fewer,” addresses the concerns of smaller farms.

According to the CCE website, the farms are grouped into different categories because “large farms employ different technologies and management systems, and thus achieve different efficiencies than smaller farms. This makes comparisons of a large farm’s performance to the average of farms of all sizes not as meaningful as comparing to the average of similar sized farms.”

The summaries report that small farms in the state have been facing business challenges lately; it attempts to identify both strengths and weaknesses of these businesses by comparing them to other dairy farms that share similar operating and management techniques.

The project also divides New York State into the following regions for comparison: Northern Hudson, Western and Central Plain, Central Valleys, Southeastern New York, Western and Central Plateau and Northern New York. The “My Farm” section of the regional report “enable[s] farm business managers to make direct comparisons of their business data with the averages of dairy farms in their particular region,” the website stated.

Although the reports contain mostly data for farmers to use according to their own judgment, the main report does conclude that “differences in profitability between farms continue to widen.”

The Dairy Farm Management Business Summaries can be obtained from The Resource Center of the Cornell Cooperative Extension or on their website, www.cce.cornell.edu/store.

Archived article by Jamie Leonard
Sun Staff Writer