July 14, 1999 | By: Ellen Brightwell

What can you do when an area loses thousands of manufacturing jobs? To compound the problem, many of these jobs were held by farmers who work off-farm and also are uncertain about the future of tobacco.

One answer is to explore the risks and rewards of new opportunities to add value in the dairy business. A seminar July 29 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. EDT will help dairy farmers, community development leaders and other interested groups explore these opportunities.

The free seminar, "Add $$$ to Kentucky Dairies – Rewards and Risks," will take place in the Grosser Fine Arts Center at Campbellsville University. It is sponsored by the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. To pre- register for the seminar and lunch, call (270) 465-4511 by July 22.

"This seminar is a ‘must attend' for people who want to explore new dairy business opportunities," said Becky Nash, Taylor County Extension agent for family and consumer sciences. "People attending will learn more about potential new dairy business opportunities from our seminar speakers and from networking with others who have the same interests. People also can visit educational exhibits and sample some specialty dairy products."

An important step is to investigate the feasibility of establishing value-added enterprises, whether for dairy or other agricultural commodities, according to Tim Woods, Extension specialist in agribusiness for the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.

"When you're looking at the feasibility of a new dairy business, you need to begin with an analysis of the potential market and work back by identifying who your customers will be and what products they want," Woods said. "Are these products unique in that they're not the type offered by others in the dairy business? You'll need to carve out your own place in what is a very crowded arena of new products already on the market."

Woods said another consideration is what resources, financial and otherwise, will be needed to put a new business together. "These ventures often involve considerable start-up costs, specialized equipment and the expertise to work with this equipment," he said.

Several seminar speakers will share their experiences of adding value to the raw product by establishing specialty dairy-product businesses. Richard Clauss, founding partner of Hilmar Cheese Company, will talk about how he and 10 other Jersey breeders in California established the successful cheese company, including reasons they built their own plant and how they transformed the operation from a labor-intensive set-up with 24 employees to a completely automated operation with 270 employees. Hilmar Cheese processes 5.5 million pounds of milk per day.

In addition, Ken Mattingly of Kenny's Country Cheese in Austin, KY, will share experiences of establishing a specialty cheese business from a dairy farmer's perspective.

Another segment will be a panel discussion, "On the Other Side of the Fence." Panelists will discuss the market for specialty cheeses from consumers' perspectives and the importance of identifying consumers' interests to the success of a new business. Members will include people working with farmers to explore alternative agricultural enterprises and owners of specialty cheese businesses. One panelist will be Judith Shadd of Capriole, Inc., an Indiana goat cheese business. Shadd also is a board member of the American Cheese Society.

Note: Grosser Fine Arts Center is located on University Drive between North Columbia and Central Avenue in the central part of Campbellsville. Parking also is on University Drive. If you're coming from Lebanon, turn right onto Central Avenue and left onto University Drive. If coming from Columbia, Greensburg or Hodgenville, turn left onto North Columbia Avenue and right on University Drive.


Writer: Ellen Brightwell (606) 257-1376

Sources: Tim Woods (606) 257-7270 Becky Nash (270) 465-4511