Dairy Strong details come into focus


GREEN BAY, Wis. – Dairy Strong — one of the Midwest’s premiere conferences for the dairy community — will be held Jan. 23 and 24 at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center in Madison, Wis.

Dairy Strong 2019 will bring together more than 700 farmers, corporate professionals and government and university representatives to explore the future of an integral part of the culture and economy of Wisconsin and the nation.

The conference will include a dynamic discussion about the changing landscape of export markets and the role of agricultural commodities in trade negotiations featuring Gregg Doud, who serves as the chief agricultural negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

Ken Schmidt, the former director of communications for Harley-Davidson and now a highly sought-after communications consultant, will be a featured speaker. Schmidt played an active role at Harley-Davidson in one of the most celebrated turnarounds in corporate history. He will talk about how to improve competitiveness and reach out to new customers in completely non-traditional ways, which is a timely discussion for the dairy community. Schmidt was a featured speaker at the first Dairy Strong conference in 2015.

Famed geopolitical strategist Peter Zeihan will serve as the economics keynote and closing speaker. Zeihan’s worldview marries the realities of geography and populations to a deep understanding of how global politics impact markets and economic trends.

A keynote by sports agency trailblazer Molly Fletcher will kick off the conference. As one of the top agents, she has represented sport’s biggest names, including Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz, PGA TOUR golfer Matt Kuchar, broadcaster Erin Andrews, and basketball coaches Tom Izzo and Doc Rivers. While Fletcher negotiated more than $500 million in contracts and built lasting relationships, she also observed and adopted the traits of those at the top of their game. She will draw parallels to the dairy community by identifying the traits that allow successful leaders to lean in to challenging times, emerging better on the other side.

Newly elected Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has been invited to deliver the state legislative keynote on Jan. 24.

In addition to the keynote speakers, Dairy Strong will feature track sessions and shorter presentations on the Innovation Stage, presented by CWAS Global, located in the trade show area. Topics range from risk management to advocating for dairy on social media and breakthroughs in dairy nutrition.

New this year is the Wisconsin wine and cheese tasting and pairing stage,  presented by HUB International, featuring experts from Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin for cheese education, pairing ideas, fun facts and more.

Dairy Strong will also feature three educational tracks:

Track 1: Consumer Trends

“Research roundup: Understanding our consumers,” presented by Hannah Thompson-Weeman, Animal Agriculture Alliance. Sponsored by Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative.

“Consumers are driving change in today’s food culture,” presented by Madlyn Daley, Dairy Management Inc. and Helen Lundell, the Hartman Group. Sponsored by Quality Liquid Feeds.

 Track 2: Dairy Technology

“Revealing the benefits of precision technology on your dairy,” presented by Dr. Jeffrey Bewley, Alltech. Sponsored by Alltech.

“Results of a bedding dryer; Healthier cows with dryer bedding,” presented by Lee Kinnard, Kinnard Farms and Rob Plank, McLanahan. Sponsored by McLanahan.

Track 3: Business Development 

“Best approaches to managing risk and improving dairy business performance” featuring Liz Griffith of Tuls Dairies, Avalon, Wis.; Dan Rice of Prairieland Dairy, LLC, Firth, Neb.; and Doug Grotegut of Grotegut Dairy Farm, LLC, Newton, Wis. Sponsored by K·Coe Isom.
“Value-added dairy: On-farm processing opportunities, challenges and insights” featuring James Baerwolf of Sassy Cow Creamery; Columbus, Wis.; Mark Crave of Crave Brothers Farm, LLC; Waterloo, Wis.; Mark Crave of Crave Brothers Farm, LLC; Waterloo, Wis.; and Jerry Jennissen of Jer-Lindy Farms/Redhead Creamery; Brooten, Minn. Sponsored by Compeer Financial.

In its fifth year, Dairy Strong is a conference where all aspects of the dairy community come together to coalesce around a commitment to what’s important today and tomorrow. Farmers representing farms of all sizes and business philosophies are joined by any number of related businesses and partners to learn, engage and explore. For more information about Dairy Strong including the complete schedule and registration information, go to dairystrong.org.