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Eighth Annual Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference

Sara Long
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications

The eighth annual Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference (GLRDC) will host a wide array of top-notch speakers addressing a myriad challenges facing today’s dairy farmers. From exploring animal welfare issues to implementing effective management teams and learning from last year’s high feed and low milk prices, the two-day conference will touch upon many of today’s hot-button industry issues.

“Each year we seek out topics that are relevant to the current dairy situation and will resonate with producers,” says Faith Cullens, GLRDC program chairperson and Michigan State University (MSU) Extension dairy educator. “I think we have put together one of our best slates of speakers yet. In 2009 we welcomed more than 350 producers and dairy industry representatives. We hope to build on that momentum by delivering another high-impact conference in 2010.”

The 2010 Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference will be held February 11-13 at the Bavarian Inn Lodge and Conference Center in Frankenmuth. The conference includes two days of educational sessions, one half-day of breed association and youth meetings and an industry-wide awards banquet honoring a host of industry winners including the MSU Dairy Farmer of the Year.

Keynoting on the first day of the 2010 conference is Charlie Arnot, CEO of the Center for Food Integrity. Arnot will address the gap between public expectations of the dairy industry and the reality of today’s industry. He will help dairy farmers understand what consumers expect and how to build public trust.

Also headlining the event is Dr. David Kohl, president of Agri-visions, LLC, and professor emeritus of agricultural finance and small business management, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Dr. Kohl will present his high-energy perspective on how producers should position their businesses for tomorrow and beyond. His talk concludes the Friday morning schedule.

Other speakers presenting at the annual event include: Dr. Michael Hutjens, University of Illinois dairy extension specialist; Dr. Adam Lock, MSU assistant professor of animal science; Dr. Michael Allen, University Distinguished Professor, MSU Department of Animal Science; Jamie Jonker, Director of Regulatory Affairs, National Milk Producers Federation and Roger Thomson, D.V.M., Team Management Concepts.

Michigan dairy farmers will take part in two producer panels during the conference. On Thursday afternoon, Jorge Estrada, employee management expert with Estrada, Simmonds & Associates, will moderate the panel discussion on effectively managing high performance teams. Friday’s panel discussion, led by Roger Thomson, D.V.M., will focus on fresh cow management strategies.

Estrada will also conduct a bilingual herdsmen session on Thursday evening called “Closing the Cultural Gap with My Employees.”

“We pack in as much information as we can in two days,” Cullens says. “We pull together a wide range of speakers that can appeal to all dairy farmers at some level.”

Four in-depth workshops will be offered Friday afternoon:

  • The Good, Bad and Ugly of Sand Separation: Years of Experience From Four Farms (will feature a producer panel and update);
  • Strategies for Achieving Successful Family Business Succession;
  • Environmental Updates on Land, Air and Sea: A National Environmental Roundup; and,
  • Telling the Dairy Farming Story: Communicating and Connecting with Consumers, Media and Other Audiences (held in conjunction with the Partners Program).

Registration forms are available online at www.glrdc.msu.edu or by calling 517-353-3173, ext. 229. Registrations received before Jan. 29 will receive a $50 early bird discount. Online registration closes Feb. 8, 2010. For more go to http://anrcom.msu.edu/press/120109/120309_overview.htm.




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