Data from the 1993 Farm Costs and Returns Survey were used in a multi-variate analysis framework to determine factors associated with the financial performance of commercial dairy farm operations. Statistical equivalency tests revealed regional differences in the way extensive indebtedness, size of operation, and labor cost affect net farm incomes. Regional differences were also found in terms of how milk production per cow, per-unit cost of purchased feed, and level of adoption of capital intensive technologies affect per-unit returns. Examination of the variation in the net farm income of commercial dairy farms using the method of coefficients of separate determination identified the size of the operation, regardless of the location of the farm business, as the factor contributing the most to the variability in net farm income. On a per-unit-of-returns basis, factors found most important in explaining the variation in net returns per hundredweight of milk sold were cow's productivity, and per-cow forage production and purchased feed costs.


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