John Ellsworth: A whole new ballgame for dairy producers.

Joel Hastings and John Ellsworth

After four years of low farm milk prices and not necessarily much relief in sight, financial consultant John Ellsworth of Success Strategies, thinks it's a whole new ballgame for dairy producers. Speaking with Joel Hastings of DairyBusiness, he shares a few management ideas that can work today.


  1. I’m confused by the saying “a new ballgame” as it applies to profitable dairy farming. If the saying refers to something like ‘we’re following baseball rules and discovered that we’re in a football game’, then I would disagree. The analogy I prefer is we’re playing in a new league; we’ve moved from the minor league and are now competing with the major league players. The game and rules have not changed. Dairy producers that are profitable today are using the same strategies that made them profitable in the past; understanding their costs and controlling them, understanding their production processes and controlling them (efficient production of replacements, milk, and feed). Producers that have superior skill in playing the game, have always and will always be winners. Finally, talent alone does not create a winning team. Superior coaching like that provided by Mr. Ellsworth and many others is often a necessary ingredient.

    • Bruce, I like your minor to major league analogy and also think it is better that the whole new ballgame analogy. I agree with your comment that skill is key, but I do think there is another necessity and that is business size. Size can be something other than number of cows, but the economies of size and the increasing skill of the owner/leader/managers of large dairy businesses, especially in strategy and people management, are making it very difficult to impossible for small and middle size dairies to compete without something else – a niche, additional enterprises, or something else to increase the profit potential of the business.

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