Abstract #M154

# M154
Needs assessment for cooperative extension dairy programs in California.
J. P. N. Martins*1, B. Karle2, J. Heguy3, 1University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources, Tulare, CA, 2University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources, Glenn, CA, 3University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources, Modesto, CA.

The aim of the present study was to better understand dairy producer needs and how to best direct and deliver cooperative extension (CE) programming. In March 2017, a needs assessment survey was mailed to grade A dairy producers in California (n = 1,080). Response rate was 15.4% (n = 166) and herd size averaged 1,405 milking cows (range 83–5,500). The geographic distribution of survey responses was representative of the distribution of dairies throughout the state. Producers were asked to indicate the level of concern for a predetermined list of issues. Rank of concern had 3 numeric levels: (1) very concerned, (2) somewhat concerned, or (3) not concerned. Mean and percentage of responses in each rank for each issue topic was calculated. The top 5 concerns/obstacles indicated were (1) milk price, (2) labor availability/quality, (3) environmental issues/regulations, (4) labor costs, and (5) water quality/availability. Surveyed respondents were also asked to determine the level of priority of a predetermined list of CE research and educational opportunities. Producers ranked topics as (1) high priority, (2) medium priority, or (3) low priority. The 5 highest priority research topics were (1) herd health, (2) environmental issues, (3) reproduction, (4) milk quality, and (5) water quality. The 5 highest priority educational topics were (1) herd health, (2) milk quality, (3) reproduction, (4) environmental issues, and (5) calf and heifer management. Producers were then asked to identify the target audience for CE information delivery and preferred information delivery method. Most respondents indicated that the target audience should be dairy owners (93%) or managers (66%). Fewer producers indicated a target audience of dairy employees (27%) or allied industry (23%). Preferable information delivery methods were newsletter/magazine articles (81%), half-day/short meetings (47%), on-farm training/meetings (39%). Webinars and 2- or 3-d destination meetings were the least preferable methods (27 and 9%, respectively). Survey results will serve to develop future dairy cooperative extension programs in California.

Key Words: dairy, needs assessment, cooperative extension