Dairy Discussion Groups: Modern Operators of Progressive and Expanding Dairies (MOPED) of Ontario County
CALS Impact Statement
The dairy specialists of the Northwest New York (NWNY) Team have acted as facilitators and resource investigators for a regional dairy discussion group known as MOPED - Modern Operators of Progressive and Expanding Dairies.
Close relationships developed through this MOPED effort have provided the NWNY Team with producers willing to host on-farm extension programs including Hoof Care, Calf Specialist, Feed Manager and AI and Reproduction as well as out-of-area tours.
Group dinner seminars and field trips highlight management, facility and personnel topics that have economic significance. Of less obvious impact is the satisfaction and networking opportunities achieved by all involved in the informal opportunities in a relaxed environment, whether dairy producer, agribusiness rep or extension person. The exchange of ideas and planning venues has become a catalyst for increased participation and generates positive feedback.
The dairy business continues to change. Dairy owners are faced with fluctuating dairy prices and ever increasing costs. Profitability can be difficult without improving many areas of the dairy enterprise almost simultaneously. Managers have limited time to fully investigate new methods and technologies whether they involve managing people, cattle or nutrients. Access to experts, hearing from leading producers first- hand and/or seeing examples of profitable change can be difficult for individuals to arrange by themselves. Discussion groups offer a friendly, local forum to bring these tools to dairy producers and foster peer discussion and evaluation.
The Dairy Specialists of the Northwest New York (NWNY) Team have facilitated an existing dairy discussion group centered in Ontario County known as Modern Operators of Progressive Expanding Dairies, or MOPED. Over the last three years, the waning interest and participation of group members has been rekindled. Six monthly dinner meetings with presentations occur between October and March. An annual bus tour along with smaller group trips take participants on in-depth tours of farms with exceptional management. Meetings and tours have focused on nutrient management, robotic milkers, farm expansion, composted bedding packs and manure digesters.
The Modern Operators of Progressive Expanding Dairies (MOPED) group has increased in membership from 48 to 56 in the last two years. The level of activity and participation has increased by one-third to one-half over the last three years. Corporate sponsorship of speakers, motor coach charters, meals and incidental supplies has significantly improved as well. An increase in the number of agribusiness membership offering sponsorship and member attendance at functions has been noted. Local extension efforts related to public issues such as manure management have been aided by the proactive members of this group and their positive image. This has become a successful outreach activity.
funding source description
Membership dues, pay-as-you-go dinners and tours, extension printing and mailing service and agribusiness sponsorship support the project without direct grant or public funding sources.