2019 Year-In-Review

Janice, Melanie, Abbie, Mary Kate, Shannon, Betsy and Fay

Fall is the season when organizations like Farm Bureau and Cornell Cooperative Extension host annual meetings and reflect on the major challenges and accomplishments of the past year. While our team is in the midst of planning for 2020 winter programs, we are also taking time to reflect on the work we did in 2019. Read on for a summary of the important issues we encountered last year, and how our team worked with farmers to address them, in each of our main program areas.

We are always open to feedback and suggestions from farmers and industry folks. If you have ideas for educational programming that our team could offer in 2020, please reach out and let us know!

Crop Management Education Supports Profitability & Sustainability

Forage quality remains a key driver of production and profitability on dairy farms, and it can often be improved with low- or no-cost solutions. Our team delivers training and support for dairies to produce adequate forage quantity and quality. Through workshops and individual consultations, our Field Crops Specialist educates producers on current trends and technologies, Integrated Pest Management, and nutrient management, all within a broader framework of economic viability and environmental stewardship.

Our field crops program also covers industrial hemp, NY’s newest crop. We provide technical expertise to help producers cultivate hemp and navigate the permitting process.

Dairy Management Education Targets Herd Health & Performance

98% of US dairy farms participate in the FARM (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management) Program. These producers must meet animal welfare standards and ensure that employees receive animal care training. Our team helps farmers keep up with industry standards by organizing herd health and management trainings. On-farm workshops provide hands-on opportunities for farm operators and their employees to learn and practice key skills.

Our Dairy Specialist also works one-on-one with individual farms to improve facilities and procedures. Benchmarking facility measurements and other animal welfare indicators helps farmers to identify opportunities for improvement.

Business Management Education Builds Planning & HR Skills

Farmers need accurate information about business performance to make good decisions. We educate and support producers to improve record keeping systems, and we facilitate participation in financial benchmarking programs. Access to financial data helps producers make sound financial decisions and plan for the future.

Farmers are scrambling to keep up with new labor laws as employees are becoming harder to find. Our Business Management Specialist trains farms to implement employee onboarding and other HR best practices, including compliance with new sexual harassment prevention regulations. Improving labor management on farms has potential to boost employee performance while reducing exposure to liability.

Public Outreach Enhances Consumer Perceptions of Agriculture

Community relations are a growing concern for farmers, who face increasing public scrutiny. Public perception of agriculture shapes consumer preferences, regulations, and evolving industry standards. These, in turn, may affect production practices and requirements for market entry.

Our team supports outreach events that bring consumers onto dairy farms to learn about the industry. We also provide public relations training for farmers, and teach them how to be “ag-vocates” for themselves and their industry.

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Farm Business Management Specialist

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