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Structural changes in the dairy industry such as the adoption of Total Mixed Rations in place of manufactured complete feeds and declines in milk production in the areas served by locals are bringing these cooperatives to a crossroads where they must decide who will be their core customer. The ramifications of this choice are increased through market segmentation which enables cooperatives to more precisely meet the needs of producer-members but simultaneously increases diversity among members and, potentially, among locals themselves. Survey results from 247 locals indicated small producers (cl00 cows) made up 80 percent of their clientele. The production practices of these producers appeared to lag significantly behind the innovators and large producers (>l 00 cows) observed by locals as well as the small producers studied on a nationwide basis by USDA’s National Animal Health Monitoring System. To survive themselves, locals will need to take a more aggressive and informed approach to sustaining small producers.


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