Forecasting and Benchmarking the Financial Bottom Line

Dr. Maurice Eastridge, Extension Dairy Specialist, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

Currently, a lot of focus is on the volatility in the dairy industry. Of course a hearing on the Federal order pricing system is scheduled (see article elsewhere in this issue of Buckeye Dairy News), but any changes are well into the future. As we sit just beyond the halfway mark for the year and look toward yearend, we should evaluate our current financial situation and project some “what if’s” for the yearend. Milk component prices are rather volatile at the moment due to many factors within the pricing system, although cheese prices are showing some promise. Cull cow prices have been quite good recently, along the overall positive beef cattle prices. Although Ohio is not included, you might want to monitor the new Livestock Auction Dashboard provided by USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (Livestock Auction Dashboard | MMN ( as shifts in beef prices will influence the price for cull cows and dairy calves. The feed price situation is somewhat uncertain at the moment given the drought conditions that remain in some parts of the Midwest, and we are still somewhat too far out from harvest for good estimates on overall grain yields for the primary growing states. First-cutting of forage was quite good in quality but lower yields than often occurring due to low rainfall. Major challenges have occurred for many farmers in getting second or third cuttings harvested in a timely manner due to frequent rains.

After you develop those “what if’s” on the revenue and costs, there are various sources to benchmark against:

  1. Ohio Dairy Farm Business Summary: The 2011 through 2021 dairy and crop business summaries are provided at: Ohio Farm Business Summaries | Ohio Farm Business Analysis and Benchmarking Program (
  2. Data summaries from the Cornell University Dairy Farm Business Summaries:
  3. Northeast Dairy Farm Business Summaries:
  4. University of Minnesota, Center for Farm Financial Management: Reports can be run for crops or dairy by year and also some data are available by herd size:

Of course one of the major challenges is that each year is different, but at least one of the reports provides a midyear outlook. Best wishes with harvests during the next few months and as you plan for the yearend on financial management.