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Mobile App Helps Dairy Farmers

Unpredictable weather and price volatility have caused problems for dairy farmers trying to make ends meet. A free mobile app developed by Penn State Extension can help farmers make sense of financial planning.

The DairyCents mobile app (available for Apple products on iTunes and Google Play for Android devices) calculates income over feed costs and compares prices of various forages, grains, and commodities to the Penn State Feed Price List.

“Farmers are doers—they enjoy the physical work aspect of farming, but not always the financial side of operations,” says Virginia Ishler, nutrient management specialist and dairy complex manager in animal science. “Hopefully, this app makes that part a little easier.”

Farmers need only enter the date, their zip code, and estimated level of milk production to use the income-over-feed function, says Ishler, who worked with Penn State senior project associate Rebecca White and AHG Inc. CEO Alex Heiphetz to develop the app.

Prices for alfalfa hay, milk, corn, and soybean meal are obtained from the National Agricultural Statistics Service and Chicago Mercantile Exchange for the app’s calculations. 

Users can also enter the prices they are currently paying for feed, which can be viewed by farmers around the country. Ishler hopes this eventually will serve as a reference for farmers to negotiate better prices from suppliers.

For more information, visit extension.psu.edu/dairycents.