Dairy Strong focuses on industry’s future

By MaryBeth Matzek
MAA Editor

Dairy farmers and industry professionals can personalize their experience by following one of three educational tracks at Dairy Strong 2018, which will be held Jan. 17-18 at the Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center in Madison, Wis.

The tracks feature informational sessions focused on three themes: legislation and advocacy; consumer trends; and dairy technology. If participants have multiple interests, they can choose to attend sessions from the different tracks.

Creating different tracks focused around the different themes will allow participants to learn more about specific topics, said Maria Woldt, director of industry relations with the Dairy Business Association.

“We want dairy farmers and professionals to come away with additional knowledge they can use back home and these tracks are one way to do just that,” she said.

The addition of the educational tracks is the main difference conference attendees will notice at the fourth annual event compared to previous years, Woldt said.

The two-day conference features keynote speakers, a trade show and networking opportunities. The innovation stage, a smaller presentation area, also returns.  Speakers have 30 minutes to share information about a topic ranging this year from social media to cow sensors.

“We pack a lot in the conference since we understand how challenging it is for farmers to get away,” Woldt said.

More than 800 people from around the country are expected to attend Dairy Strong.

Bud Selig, the former commissioner of Major League Baseball and owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, is Dairy Strong’s keynote speaker. “Bud successfully navigated numerous controversies in the baseball community and will call on that experience to draw parallels to what the dairy community is facing today,” Woldt said.

Legislative keynote speaker Ana Navarro, a well-known Republican strategist and a CNN political commentator, will discuss issues important to the dairy industry, including immigration, while Lynne Lancaster, an expert on generations in the workplace, will discuss how to conduct business more successfully by bridging generation gaps at work and in the marketplace.

“If you look at farms, they are multi-generational workplaces where a son or daughter may have a different opinion of how to do something compared with their parents,” Woldt said. “Lynne will talk about ways to navigate that.”

A panel discussion on dairy economics will feature former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who is now with the U.S. Dairy Export Council; Chuck Connors of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives; and Michael Dykes of the International Dairy Foods Association.

For more information, visit www.dairystrong.org.