This section provides abstracts for forthcoming academic articles that are a result of the project’s research objectives. You will find each abstract below. There are also other relevant publications that address similar research questions as this project that can be found in the articles section under resources.
Title: "The Impact of Uncertainty on the Financial Performance of Dairy Farming Systems in the Northeast" by Mark P. Cannella [Download PDF]
Dairy farm businesses in the Northeastern United States are forced to operate under increasing uncertainty. Volatility of milk prices and the historic “cost-price squeeze” from rising costs of production contribute to an increasing risk to the financial performance and sustainability of dairy based businesses. From 2000-2007 we witnessed the unpredictability of income as the Class III milk base price for the Northeast fluctuated between a low of $8.57 per hundredweight (cwt) and a high of $21.38 per cwt. By 2008, expansion of the ethanol.. Read more.
This document provides a summary of results from a recent survey of over 1,000 dairy farmers in four northeastern states. The primary goal of the survey was to understand the barriers, real or perceived, that farmers face with regard to the adoption of rotational grazing as a dairy production system. Additionally, the survey results provide some interesting information on the descriptive characteristics of the primary dairy production systems used in the Northeast. Averages from across these four states (MD, PA, NY, and VT) show that approximately 13% of dairy producers use rotational grazing... Read more.
Title: "Barriers to the Adoption of Management-intensive Grazing among Dairy Farmers in the Northeastern United States". Pending publication.
This paper uses recent survey results from over 1,000 dairy producers in the Northeastern U.S. to analyze farmers’ perceptions of barriers to the adoption of rotational grazing (referred to in the paper as management-intensive grazing, or MIG) as means for feeding their dairy herd. The survey found that approximately 13% of dairy producers in the region were using MIG during the 2006 growing season. Approximately 40% of farmers surveyed were using a confinement feeding operation where the milking herd does not graze at all and close to 47% were using a traditional system that involved some pasture forage for the milking herd. Regardless of the popular sentiment that increased information and technical assistance is needed in the field, producers more frequently report a series of other barriers as being greater obstacles to the adoption of MIG. Farmers using confinement feeding tended to see each of the barriers presented as being more significant obstacles than did other farmers. Farmers with higher debt ratios and higher milk production per cow were more likely to view the financially related barriers (decreased milk production per cow, cash flow, and farm profits) as significant obstacles.
Title: "At a Crossroads: The Northeast Dairy Industry"
This paper provides a summary of results from a recent survey of over 1,000 dairy farmers in four Northeastern states. The survey results provide descriptive characteristics of the current state of dairy farming in the region, as well as farmer satisfaction levels, concerns, and plans for the future of their farming operation. The paper analyses characteristics of three distinctive dairy production systems used in the Northeast. Averages from across the four survey states (Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, and Vermont) show that approximately 13% of dairy producers use management-intensive, or rotational grazing and 7% are large, modern confinement dairies with more than 300 cows. These two more specialized production systems show many significant differences in farm and farmer characteristics, satisfaction levels, and plans for the future, compared with farms using more traditional production systems. The results indicate that farms using traditional production systems are more likely to exit the industry in near future, thus indicating a continued trend toward specialization. The changing structure of the dairy industry has potentially important implications for environmental quality, rural communities, and the food system.
Quality of Life Abstracts:
This paper examines the degree to which the adoption of Management Intensive Grazing practices affects dairy farmers’ decision to remain in the business, expand or reduce their operations, or quit farming. This qualitative study, based on interviews with dairy farmers in Vermont, will expand upon a survey of farmers’ responses to questions about factors that affect their quality of life. Interviews revealed that availability of labor, the challenges of intergenerational transition, volatile milk prices, and rising costs of inputs were critical factors in farmers’ perception of their current and future status as farmers.
This paper examines through spatial analysis techniques the environmental matrix within which different kinds of dairy farmers operate. Specifically, remotely sensed images, digital elevation models, Naturalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), and GIS modeling will be employed to compare the environmental conditions – i.e., altitude, slope, aspect, vegetation productivity – in which confinement feeding and management intensive grazing dairy farms operate. The spatial analysis will also examine the adjacency and connectivity of farmers’ pastures to assess the relationship between access to land and type of production system.
This paper examines the qualitative differences in quality of life between communities that are characterized by small versus large scale dairy farms. Building on the early work of Walter Goldschmidt, who linked the structure of agriculture to socioeconomic conditions within a community. This paper will compare household incomes, employment patterns, education levels, health, and access to communication in two geographically similar rural Vermont communities, one having predominantly industrial scaled farmes and the other characterized by small-scale operations. Through interviews and community profiling, the paper asks whether conventional dairy operations with their necessarily high capital requirements and use of hired labor have resulted in a community with more impersonal social relationships, social class differentiation, and conflict. In Vermont dairy communities, is it the case (as Goldschmidt found) that as the average size of farm increases, the number of persons supported in the rural area and local community declines? Is the quality of rural life different if labor structure and types of farm inputs are based on conventional confinement operations versus rotational grazing operations?