Field Notes Blog

< View All Blog Posts

Dairy Feature Friday: Myron Gehman

As a 30-year dairy farmer in Juniata County, Myron Gehman experienced his share of challenges and opportunities growing his business. From milking 32 cows to milking 400 cows; from farm rental to ownership; from a devastating fire to building a new barn and from a tie-stall barn to a free-stall barn, Myron’s navigated those changes and more during his career.

To help him focus on his numbers and stay the course through transition, Myron relies on a dairy profit team.

Introduced to the dairy profit team concept at the Keystone Farm Show by the Center of Dairy Excellence (CDE) 15 years ago, Myron launched his team with a benchmark study to learn how he compared to his peers.

Myron’s team included Mike Hosterman, AgChoice business consultant. “At that time, we were planning to expand our free-stall barn,” said Myron. “I remember telling Mike, ‘I’m hiring you to tell me the truth. Don’t sugarcoat anything!’”

During that dairy expansion project, a switch in lenders and most recently, a digester project, Mike provided Myron with steady guidance through his profit team. “Mike’s hard on me, but he keeps me on course,” shared Myron.

Other members of Myron’s profit team include his nutritionist, veterinarian, agronomist, sanitation expert, lender and a facilitator. The team meets quarterly, setting the next meeting before they adjourn.

“I think that profit teams and the Dairy Profit Analyzer (DPA) go hand-in-hand,” explained Myron. “The DPA brings it all together. If we have poor yields, the agronomist can focus on it, as an example. It’s not always my management, but my team’s services. My team is being graded as much as me.”

Gut Instinct Isn’t Enough

Myron cites 2016 as a prime example of why profit teams work. With his cows doing well, Myron was looking forward to his July quarterly team meeting to review the first half of the year. “I was thinking things were better than they were,” noted Myron.

The team reviewed the DPA and saw a trend; the numbers were not matching. “It came down to input costs,” Myron said.

“I remember feeling beat after that meeting, like I received a bad report card,” Myron recalled. “We re-evaluated though, made adjustments and by the end of ’16, we were heading the other way.”

“For me, it showed what good accounting can do for you,” shared Myron. “Sometimes gut instinct isn’t enough. It helped me sort out emotions from reality. Emotions are fickle.”

For Myron, the team also provides an accountability benefit. “It’s hard to make the list of accounts due over 30 days every month,” he said. “But it’s what keeps you from going 60 days over. I think every young farmer should want that check-point; you can’t hide it under the rug.”

 “I’ve been blessed with one of the best profit teams,” said Myron. “It doesn’t mean every team meeting feels good, but the effects are always good. If you want to see your business grow and have an open mind, you can learn a lot from a profit team.”

Myron shared this final advice on teams and quality accounting services: “You need to know where you’re at so you know where you’re going.”

How to Start a Dairy Team on Your Farm

 

The Center for Dairy Excellence (CDE) leverages funds provided through the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to provide grants to individual farms to establish either a Dairy Profit, Transition or Transformation Team. To participate, farms must complete an application. A demonstrated in-kind or financial match for all team grant reimbursements is required. To review additional program guidelines visit the CDE website, centerfordairyexcellence.org or call 717-346-0849. A $100 application fee is required for all On-Farm Resource Programs.

Note: Farms must have lactating cows on their facility to apply for a grant.


< View All Blog Posts