Two organizations, Compeer Financial and the Wisconsin Farmers’ Union, have announced their sponsorship of a two-day course held March 24-25 in Madison, Wisconsin.
The Making More From Milk course offers dairy producers an opportunity to explore various diversification options, and a chance to think about the future of their businesses and their families.
“The course comes out of a desire to provide real, solid information that leads towards some definite action for dairy producers—be they cow, goat or sheep milk producers,” says one of the course organizers, Jill Stahl Tyler from Global Cow. “The speakers who talk to our group don’t sugar coat their own experiences. They are very specific and blunt about the work they’ve put in—and they are relentlessly passionate about their commitment to dairying.”
The course includes information from various perspectives, all of which helps a dairy producer think about what his or her niche might be. The focus is on looking into what might work for each specific participant.
Making More From Milk encourages interaction and creates a supportive environment that often continues after the course concludes. This includes hearing from various producers who have a found unique ways to add value to their dairy. Panel discussions with various consultants and resources also offer a chance to meet with professionals who can help move course attendees’ dreams into reality.
Also on the first day, the course offers two “behind-the-scenes” visits: a retail specialty cheese store and a restaurant that specializes in local foods. “We want the farmers to be able to see their potential products through the eyes of those who work directly with the consumer,” notes the other course organizer, Karen Nielsen of Global Dairy Outreach.
The second day takes participants off-site, traveling to visit three locations where farmers have successfully found ways to add value to dairy and “make more from their milk”. They include an ice cream parlor next to a family farm; a farm with its own fluid milk and ice-cream processing, and agritourism; and a farm that specializes in farm tours.
“We always hear comments back from participants that they never expected to hear such incredible honesty from everyone they talk to during this course,” comments Stahl Tyler. “That information is just so valuable when they are dreaming about how to make more from their milk.”
The second day concludes by looking at next steps and business planning.
The course organizers have worked with the dairy industry for decades, and are very aware of the challenges facing farmers. “We pulled this course together because we know that if farmers can’t “make more from milk”, they just can’t afford to continue in dairying,” Stahl Tyler says. “We want to provide an opportunity for dairy families to consider some other options.”
“The course is a true highlight of our year,” agrees Nielsen. “Watching the participants feel optimism is great.”
To apply for the two full course scholarships from the Wisconsin Farmers’ Union–including travel–the application form is here.
Complete details are available at http://globalcow.com/making-more-from-milk/ An optional add-on includes a full day of hands-on cheese making, offered on March 26.