Dairy Farm Business Plan Template

Written by Dave Lavinsky

dairy farm business plan

Dairy Farming Business Plan

Over the past 20+ years, we have helped over 500 entrepreneurs and business owners create business plans to start and grow their dairy farming businesses. On this page, we will first give you some background information with regards to the importance of business planning. We will then go through a dairy farming business plan template step-by-step so you can create your plan today.

What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan provides a snapshot of your dairy farm as it stands today, and lays out your growth plan for the next five years. It explains your business goals and your strategy for reaching them. It also includes market research to support your plans.
 

Why You Need a Business Plan

If you’re looking to start a dairy farm, or grow your existing dairy farm, you need a business plan. A business plan will help you raise funding, if needed, and plan out the growth of your dairy farm in order to improve your chances of success. Your dairy farming business plan is a living document that should be updated annually as your company grows and changes.
 

Sources of Funding for Dairy Farming Businesses

With regards to funding, the main sources of funding for a dairy business are personal savings, credit cards, bank loans and angel investors. With regards to bank loans, banks will want to review your business plan and gain confidence that you will be able to repay your loan and interest. To acquire this confidence, the loan officer will not only want to confirm that your financials are reasonable, but they will also want to see a professional plan. Such a plan will give them the confidence that you can successfully and professionally operate a business. Personal savings and bank loans are the most common funding paths for dairy farming businesses.

If you’d like to quickly and easily complete your dairy farming business plan, download our proven business plan template here.


How To Write a Business Plan for a Dairy Farming Business

If you want to start a dairy business or expand your current one, you need a business plan. Below we detail what should be included in each section of your dairy farming business plan:
 

Executive Summary

Your executive summary provides an introduction to your dairy farming business plan, but it is normally the last section you write because it provides a summary of each key section of your plan.

The goal of your Executive Summary is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the type of dairy farm you are operating and the status. For example, are you a startup, do you have a dairy farm that you would like to grow, or are you operating dairy farming businesses in multiple markets?

Next, provide an overview of each of the subsequent sections of your plan. For example, give a brief overview of the dairy farm industry. Discuss the type of dairy farm you are operating. Detail your direct competitors. Give an overview of your target customers. Provide a snapshot of your marketing plan. Identify the key members of your team. And offer an overview of your financial plan.
 

Company Analysis

In your company analysis, you will detail the type of dairy farm you are operating.

For example, you might operate one of the following types of dairy farming businesses:

  1. Freestall dairy farm: this type of dairy farm provides plenty of ventilation for ultimate comfort for the cow as well as freestall barns which allow the cows more freedom to eat, drink, and rest wherever they like.
  2. Drylot dairy farm: this type of dairy farm is suitable for drier climates and cows are given access to shade and shelter on a large dry-dirt ot for relaxation. The cows have plenty of room for feed and water and free reign to eat and drink as they please.
  3. Pasture-based dairy farm: this type of dairy farm is a more traditional setup where cows receive an “all access pass” to green pastures to graze and rest when they are not being milked in the milking parlor. This type of dairy farm also provides cows feed and water in the barns and provide enough cover for inclement weather when needed.

In addition to explaining the type of dairy farm you will operate, the Company Analysis section of your dairy farming business plan needs to provide background on the business.

Include answers to question such as:

  • When and why did you start the business?
  • What milestones have you achieved to date? Milestones could include the number of customers served, number of positive reviews, reaching X amount of customers served, etc.
  • Your legal structure. Are you incorporated as an S-Corp? An LLC? A sole proprietorship? Explain your legal structure here.
Bonus: Download our business plan template here and complete your dairy farming business plan today.


Industry Analysis

In your industry analysis, you need to provide an overview of the dairy farm industry.

While this may seem unnecessary, it serves multiple purposes.

First, researching the dairy farm industry educates you. It helps you understand the market in which you are operating. 

Secondly, market research can improve your strategy, particularly if your research identifies market trends.

The third reason for market research is to prove to readers that you are an expert in your industry. By conducting the research and presenting it in your plan, you achieve just that.

The following questions should be answered in the industry analysis section of your dairy farming business plan:

  • How big is the dairy farm industry (in dollars)?
  • Is the market declining or increasing?
  • Who are the key competitors in the market?
  • Who are the key suppliers in the market?
  • What trends are affecting the industry?
  • What is the industry’s growth forecast over the next 5 – 10 years?
  • What is the relevant market size? That is, how big is the potential market for your dairy farm? You can extrapolate such a figure by assessing the size of the market in the entire country and then applying that figure to your local population.

 

Customer Analysis

The customer analysis section of your dairy farming business plan must detail the customers you serve and/or expect to serve.

The following are examples of customer segments: grocery retailers, families, and individual buyers. 

As you can imagine, the customer segment(s) you choose will have a great impact on the type of dairy farm you operate. Clearly, families would respond to different marketing promotions than grocery retailers, for example.

Try to break out your target customers in terms of their demographic and psychographic profiles. With regards to demographics, include a discussion of the ages, genders, locations and income levels of the customers you seek to serve.

Psychographic profiles explain the wants and needs of your target customers. The more you can understand and define these needs, the better you will do in attracting and retaining your customers.
 

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Click here to finish your dairy farming business plan today.


Competitive Analysis

Your competitive analysis should identify the indirect and direct competitors your business faces and then focus on the latter.

Direct competitors are other local dairy farms. 

Indirect competitors are other options that customers have to purchase from that aren’t direct competitors. This includes grocery stores, farmers markets, milk alternatives (vegan), etc.

With regards to direct competition, you want to describe the other dairy farming businesses with which you compete. Most likely, your direct competitors will be dairy farms located very close to your location.

For each such competitor, provide an overview of their businesses and document their strengths and weaknesses. Unless you once worked at your competitors’ businesses, it will be impossible to know everything about them. But you should be able to find out key things about them such as:

  • What type of dairy farm are they?
  • What areas do they serve?
  • What types of customers do they serve?
  • What is their pricing (premium, low, etc.)?
  • What are they good at?
  • What are their weaknesses?

With regards to the last two questions, think about your answers from the customers’ perspective. And don’t be afraid to ask your competitors’ customers what they like most and least about them.

The final part of your competitive analysis section is to document your areas of competitive advantage. For example:

  • Will you provide dairy farm products that your competitors don’t offer?
  • Will your cows be raised in a better facility?
  • Will you provide better customer service?
  • Will you offer better pricing?

Think about ways you will outperform your competition and document them in this section of your plan.
 

Marketing Plan

Traditionally, a marketing plan includes the four P’s: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. For a dairy farming business, your marketing plan should include the following:

Product: In the product section, you should reiterate the type of dairy farm that you documented in your Company Analysis. Then, detail the specific services you will be offering. For example, in addition to dairy farm products, will you provide a petting zoo, cheese making training, and any other services?

Price: Document the prices you will offer and how they compare to your competitors. Essentially in the product and price sub-sections of your marketing plan, you are presenting the services you offer and their prices.

Place: Place refers to the location of your dairy farm. Document your location and mention how the location will impact your success. For example, is your dairy farm located in a rural setting, on the outskirts of a metropolitan area, the countryside, etc. Discuss how your location might be the ideal location for your customers.

Promotions: The final part of your dairy farm marketing plan is the promotions section. Here you will document how you will drive customers to your location(s). The following are some promotional methods you might consider:

  • Advertising in local papers and magazines
  • Billboards
  • Commercials
  • Social media marketing
  • Local radio advertising
  • Word-of-mouth

 

Operations Plan

While the earlier sections of your dairy farming business plan explained your goals, your operations plan describes how you will meet them. Your operations plan should have two distinct sections as follows.

Everyday short-term processes include all of the tasks involved in running your dairy farm, including cleaning and maintaining the dairy farm and cows, milking the cows, bottling of milk, cheese production, marketing, etc.

Long-term goals are the milestones you hope to achieve. These could include the dates when you expect to obtain your XXth customer, or when you hope to reach $X in revenue. It could also be when you expect to expand your dairy farm to a new location.
 

Management Team

To demonstrate your dairy farm’ ability to succeed, a strong management team is essential. Highlight your key players’ backgrounds, emphasizing those skills and experiences that prove their ability to grow a company. 

Ideally you and/or your team members have direct experience in managing dairy farms. If so, highlight this experience and expertise. But also highlight any experience that you think will help your business succeed.

If your team is lacking, consider assembling an advisory board. An advisory board would include 2 to 8 individuals who would act like mentors to your business. They would help answer questions and provide strategic guidance. If needed, look for advisory board members with experience in managing a dairy farm or a large profitable farm.
 

Financial Plan

Your financial plan should include your 5-year financial statement broken out both monthly or quarterly for the first year and then annually. Your financial statements include your income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statements.

Income Statement: an income statement is more commonly called a Profit and Loss statement or P&L. It shows your revenues and then subtracts your costs to show whether you turned a profit or not.

In developing your income statement, you need to devise assumptions. For example, will you start with X number of cows or will you expand your cow inventory slowly? And will sales grow by 2% or 10% per year? As you can imagine, your choice of assumptions will greatly impact the financial forecasts for your business. As much as possible, conduct research to try to root your assumptions in reality.

Balance Sheets: Balance sheets show your assets and liabilities. While balance sheets can include much information, try to simplify them to the key items you need to know about. For instance, if you spend $50,000 on building out your dairy farm, this will not give you immediate profits. Rather it is an asset that will hopefully help you generate profits for years to come. Likewise, if a bank writes you a check for $50,000, you don’t need to pay it back immediately. Rather, that is a liability you will pay back over time.

Cash Flow Statement: Your cash flow statement will help determine how much money you need to start or grow your business, and make sure you never run out of money. What most entrepreneurs and business owners don’t realize is that you can turn a profit but run out of money and go bankrupt. 

In developing your Income Statement and Balance Sheets be sure to include several of the key costs needed in starting or growing a dairy farm:

  • Cost of dairy farm construction and barn build-out
  • Cost of dairy farm supplies, cows, and equipment
  • Cost of marketing the dairy farm
  • Payroll or salaries paid to staff
  • Business insurance
  • Taxes and permits
  • Legal expenses

 

Appendix

Attach your full financial projections in the appendix of your plan along with any supporting documents that make your plan more compelling. For example, you might include your list of products your dairy farm will offer, types of customers you will be targeting, and the areas your dairy farm will serve.
 

Summary

Putting together a business plan for your dairy farming business is a worthwhile endeavor. If you follow the template above, by the time you are done, you will truly be an expert. You will really understand the dairy farm industry, your competition, and your customers. You will have developed a marketing plan and will really understand what it takes to launch and grow a successful dairy farm.
 

Dairy Farming Business Plan FAQs

Growthink's Ultimate Business Plan Template allows you to quickly and easily complete your dairy farming business plan.

The goal of your Executive Summary is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the type of dairy farming business you are operating and the status; for example, are you a startup, do you have a dairy farming business that you would like to grow, or are you operating a chain of dairy farming businesses?



Finish Your Dairy Farm Business Plan in 1 Day!

Don’t you wish there was a faster, easier way to finish your dairy farming business plan?

With Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template you can finish your plan in just 8 hours or less!

Click here to finish your business plan today.

 

OR, Let Us Develop Your Plan For You

Since 1999, Growthink has developed business plans for thousands of companies that have gone on to achieve tremendous success.

Click here to see how a Growthink business plan writer can create your business plan for you.

 

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