Obtaining a Dairy License – Writing a Business Plan
With my blogs about obtaining a grade A dairy license, one assumes that you are interested in selling your product. Have you thought about a business plan? In a business plan you analyze the market to see if your product(s) are a good fit, how you will sell your product. i.e., wholesale or retail, where you will sell it, and all the related costs involved so you can know if you can afford all of what is involved in your new enterprise.
There is a great series available through County Extensions called Cultivating Success that helps one look at their resources and what their place lends itself to (or not). I recommend the overview course that looks at resources and culminates with a whole farm plan. Then, there’s a second course in the series called Agricultural Entrepreneurship where you actually write a business plan. When I took the course, I focused just on the cheese aspect, even though on our farm we have what is called a diversified enterprise consisting of timber, hayland, horses, cattle, chickens, as well as goats for milk, cheese and meat.
As I wrote the business plan, certain parts of our enterprise came into play for the goat cheese. Being able to raise our own hay greatly cut down on what we had to pay for winter’s feed for the goats. Of course, there are what one would call indirect costs that are fuel, repair & maintenance, and even purchasing haying equipment. It does begin to get complicated fast when you look at those externalities. To begin with, you might just want to budget for market price of however many ton you’ll need to winter over your herd. For example, say 25 head of goats eat approximately 5 pounds of good alfalfa hay a day, so the 25 head would need 125 pounds daily or 1.9 tons per month. Figure out how many months you will need to feed hay and the price per ton for your hay cost. To continue the example, if I have to feed hay 6 months of the year, then 6 x 1.9 = 11.4 ton at $200 per ton equals $2,280 hay bill. In the Cultivating Success class, you are taught to take into account lots of kinds of resources, such as, do you have a truck and some help to load and offload the hay. It’s a great way to consider as resources some aspects that we might not otherwise, such as having able bodied friends or family who can help with the hay (maybe in exchange for dinner, or milk or cheese).
One of the interesting things I learned in the course was that it was a looong ways to the markets that appreciated my goat cheese. As a result, I had to decide if I wanted to drive that far (and spend that many hours on the road plus wear and tear on my vehicle) or stay closer to home and grow my market. I decided to keep my carbon footprint small and spent several years’ worth of farmers market educating locals about goat cheese. It has paid off well for me. While providing a modest income, I get to know locals who might also be interested in baby goats, milking nannies, goat meat, or a cheesemaking class. The payoffs have been worth it, AND I’m not spending gobs of time driving to markets where I don’t get to meet my customers.
Let me know your thoughts about a business plan and what questions it brings up.
Thank you for joining me on this recounting of my adventures in goats, and I look forward to any questions you might have. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or our FaceBook page at Pine Stump Farms or our website www.pinestumpfarms.com . – Carey
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