Extension to host 'Women in Dairy' Lunch and Learn

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

New program provides education, social outlet

The University of Missouri Extension will be hosting the Lunch and Learn, "Women in Dairy," for dairy producers on Monday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Southwest Research Center in Mount Vernon.

"Record Keeping: Are we Making Ground?" will be presented by Wesley Tucker, MU Extension ag business specialist.

"Understanding financial benchmarks helps producers better understand their competitiveness in the industry," Tucker said. "During this time of low milk prices, identifying opportunities is more important than ever."

The new program, designed exclusively for women in the dairy industry, is debuting this year.

"It's such a delight to spend mid-day with a great group of likeminded ladies," said Reagan Bluel, MU Extension dairy specialist and coordinator of the program.

As a primary operator of a dairy farm for several years, Bluel is knowledgeable about the industry and its challenges.

"It's near and dear to my heart, and I'm excited about hopefully expanding this network," she said. "I think that, along with giving women dairy producers the chance to learn about the industry, what's equally important is the social aspect of meeting, because there's something to be said for having a social network, and surrounding yourself with others who can understand the challenges of this industry, especially during a time of low milk prices."

During challenging financial times, managing records becomes even more important, and women typically handle the records, Bluel said.

"We've learned on the dairy farms that women are the primary ones responsible for doing taxes and keeping records, and so this will equip them with how to manage records, and those who are already versed at it can then look at benchmarks we recommend for financial competitiveness," she said. "As part of the Lunch and Learn series we've just started, the goal is to have a meeting once a month to get this population off the farm, also for the social opportunity to interact with other ladies on dairy farms and enjoy each other. They're a group of people who rarely get away from the farm, and when they do, they are surrounding themselves with people who don't understand the 24-7 nature of a dairy farm.

"So with this group, they all understand having a cow calve at 2 a.m., then turning around and waking up at 4 a.m. to milk the herd. It's unlike any other job out there."

The event will be the third since the program began. The first two focused on calf care and stress management.

"These topics were the ideas of regional dairy ladies here and are topics that should compel those around them [in the industry]," Bluel said. "We alternate the meetings west versus east between Mount Vernon and Mountain Grove. This area is where the greatest mass of cows are in southwest Missouri. This way, the ladies don't have to drive more than an hour.

"There's always something to do on a farm, so by scheduling the same day every month, my hope is for ladies to be able to pencil us in for this meeting, and ones in the future."

Those interested can RSVP by calling the Barry County extension office at 417-847-3161. The $10 registration fee can be paid at the door. For more information, people may contact Reagan Bluel at 417-847-3161, or Ted Probert at 417-547-7545.

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