"Livestock Your Way" Series Publications: Producer Guides to Goal Setting and Management Options for Dairy and Poultry Enterprises in the Upper Midwest

2003 Annual Report for LNC03-232

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2003: $73,500.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2006
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Meg Moynihan
Minnesota Department of Agriculture

"Livestock Your Way" Series Publications: Producer Guides to Goal Setting and Management Options for Dairy and Poultry Enterprises in the Upper Midwest


A team of individuals from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan is producing two publications that offer unbiased, side-by-side comparisons of a wide array of dairy and poultry system options. Farmers have been involved in project development and will serve as reviewers. The publications will include farm and farmer profiles of the systems described. Follow-up events like workshops, tours or field days will bring the project to life in all participating states.
Major accomplishments in the first year have been distributing project responsibilities and resources, organizing the plan of work, subcontracting, and strengthening the project team.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Short-termexpected outcomes for this project include:

S1 Increased awareness of livestock management options available (farmers and agricultural advisor/service providers*).

S2 Increased confidence in the viability of non-conventional methods of raising livestock (farmers and agricultural advisor/service providers).

S3 Stronger relationships among the Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan participants involved in the project.

Intermediate-term expected outcomes for this project include:

I1 Farmers change their farming enterprise based on information provided (seasoned and existing farmers).

I2 Team members continue to collaborate to tackle needs and issues that emerge during the project. (Hogs Your Way resulted in an Alternative Swine Task force and increased alternative swine research and formal network. We expect similar efforts will follow this project.)

Long-term expected outcomes for this project include:

L1 Team members work together on subsequent (unrelated) projects because of relationships formed during the “Your Way” project.

*NOTE: “Agricultural service providers” may include extension educators, NRCS staff, lenders, etc.


This project accomplished a number of workplan milestones in its first year.

The major participants who conceived the project are sharing the resources and responsibilities of this SARE grant. After notification of funding, the team reconvened to recommit to the project and to develop an outline and production schedule for the publications. Meeting via conference call has made participation by team members from all three states possible. Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), the primary grantee, is overseeing the entire project and coordinating construction of the dairy publication. The Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA), a major participant and original project partner, has subcontracted to provide coordination and oversight for the poultry publication. Three other major participants/project partner organizations [the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems at University of Wisconsin (CIAS), the Michigan Agricultural Stewardship Association (MASA), and the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota (SFA)], have contracted to provide profiles of various types of poultry and dairy operations in their states.

Project Responsibilities*

Task Assigned
SARE Grant management MDA
Contracting MDA
Poultry Publication Oversight MISA
Dairy Publication Oversight MDA
Main writer, Dairy Publication Subcontract,
D. Hyk
Dairy, traditional SFA
Dairy, grass-based CIAS
Dairy, organic SFA
Dairy, seasonal CIAS
Dairy, large scale MASA
Dairy, hybrid or part-time MASA

Main writer, poultry publication Subcontract,
G. DiGiacomo
Poultry, pasture-Salatin-style CIAS
Poultry, pasture -day range MASA
Poultry, organic SFA
Poultry, hybrid: traditional/organic CIAS
Poultry, large scale MASA
Poultry, alternative species SFA

In response to a request for proposals for principal authors who will research and write the text of the dairy and poultry publications, the MDA received more than 20 inquiries of interest and five full proposals. A review team met to discuss and rank the bids. The top candidate for the poultry publication was offered and accepted a contract. Two dairy writers were interviewed before and one was offered, and accepted, a contract.

Both writers are working with poultry and dairy “sub-teams” that include technical resource people affiliated with research, extension, and farming. Participants, including the writers and project partners producing the farm profiles, also communicate via email.

Year one has been heavily administrative. As it concluded, the project was on its planned course, and experiencing only a few contracting delays.

Project Timeline

October – Execute contracts for profiles w/ CIAS, MASA, SFA-MN. Profiles due March.
November – Execute contracts w/ text writers

March – Profiles due (photos not due ’till August)
May – Drafts to project team due back late June
July – Drafts to external for technical and utility review (honorarium for farmer reviewers) due August.
August – Incorporate changes. Profile photos due.
Sept/Oct – Design, layout, proofing
Nov – to printer

January – Start publicizing and distributing
Jan-August – Outreach events using books (and/or the info they contain)

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Establishing connections and increased familiarity among project participants (Goal S3) has been a major success of this project’s first year. In addition, some participants report that during the course of planning and discussion, they have become aware of a broader range of effective livestock management options (Goals S1 and S2).

In addition, identifying writers and executing two contracts with partners and two contracts with writers have been logistical achievements – intermediate or internal objectives not reflected in the project objectives per se. The writer contracts will be executed in early January. The subcontract between the State of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin (for Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems) has experienced the most problems of any so far. Each has been fairly inflexible on contract provisions they insist be included or absent from this relatively small $7,400 subcontract (whether to specify Dane County, Wisconsin or Ramsey County, Minnesota as the trial location in case either party breached the contract was just one bone of contention, for example.) Reconciling these demands has involved three lawyers and months of time and energy. Progress on the Wisconsin profiles will be delayed until the contract is signed. Although relations between the Minnesota and Wisconsin project participants remain collegial, both parties are exasperated with the impasse between the institutions. Situations like these may prove a disincentive to multi-state projects that SARE encourages.


Steve Stevenson and Cris Carusi

Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems
Mary Jo Forbord

Sustainable Farming Association
Beth Nelson

Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture
Chuck Cornillie

Executive Director
Michigan Agricultural Stewardship Association