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GLRDS Topics Focus on Preparing Dairy Producers
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“The purpose of the GLRDC is to provide timely information for the dairy industry in the Midwest,” said Faith Cullens, chair of the 2011 GLRDC planning committee and Michigan State University (MSU) Extension dairy educator. “It’s also a great opportunity for producers to network with one another.”


Source: Michigan State University, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Contact: Sara Long 517-432-1555, ext. 223

From Marketing to Health, 2011 GLRDC Topics Focus on Preparing Dairy Producers for the Present and Future

EAST LANSING, Mich. – The ninth annual Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference (GLRDC) will usher in a strong line-up of keynote speakers, workshops, producer panels and other activities to help dairy producers plan for the future, both on and off the farm. Whether digging into issues that surround working with family members or focusing on optimizing animal health, the two-day educational program is sure to provide attendees with take-home information that will help guide their farming decisions.

"The purpose of the GLRDC is to provide timely information for the dairy industry in the Midwest," said Faith Cullens, chair of the 2011 GLRDC planning committee and Michigan State University (MSU) Extension dairy educator. "It’s also a great opportunity for producers to network with one another."

The 2011 GLRDC takes place February 3–5 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.

The first day of the conference will feature a series of speakers addressing the overarching topics of dairy marketing and animal health. First on the agenda are Diane Leonard, vice president of strategic initiatives for Dairy Management Inc., and Deborah McDaniels, senior director of product innovation and development for McDonald’s USA, who will talk to producers about thinking creatively about marketing their products.

"As the profit margin in the dairy industry continues getting smaller, it’s important for producers to look at new ways of generating income," Cullens said. "For some, that might mean buying more cows, while for others, the answer might lie in diversifying their operations by direct-marketing their products. These sessions will walk producers through some of those possibilities."

Dairy farmer and world champion hot rod racecar driver Mark Thomas will commence the series on animal health with his presentation titled "Team Work Spells Success in Racing – and in Farming." Other speakers who will be discussing specific dairy health issues include Drs. Ron Erskine and Dan Grooms, both from the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine, and Dr. Sam Leadley, calf and heifer specialist with Attica Veterinary Associates, P.C. Following their presentations, all speakers will gather on a panel facilitated by Dr. Mark Fox of the Deckerville Veterinary Clinic to field questions from the audience.

"I’m excited for the herd health panel," Cullens shared. "It’s a unique opportunity for producers to hear from multiple experts on issues that are very important to each one of them."

Producers will also enjoy hearing from Iowa farm native Jolene Brown, a family business consultant that understands agriculture and the families that live it every day. Her dinner program titled "Normal Doesn’t Live Here Anymore" occurs Thursday night, and she will head up a Friday afternoon workshop, "The Facts of Life: When Family and Business Collide." She’s bound to have conference attendees laughing while they learn valuable, realistic tools to help them balance family and business.

Other speakers featured on the 2011 GLRDC program include:

  • Jim Tillison, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Economic Research/Chief Operating Officer, Cooperatives Working Together (CWT)
  • Jeffrey Stevenson, Kansas State University
  • Dan Undersander, University of Wisconsin
  • Gary Sipiorski, Vita Plus Corporation
  • George Crave, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese

Five in-depth workshops take place Friday afternoon, Feb. 4:

  • The Facts of Life: When Family and Business Collide with Jolene Brown
  • Calf and Heifer Management Strategies with Dr. Sam Leadley
  • Vertical Integration of Dairy Farms, a producer/retailer panel with Dr. John Partridge, MSU Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition as facilitator, and panel participants Doug Westendorp, Mooville Creamery; George Crave, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese; Jon Plummer, Moomers Ice Cream; and Wendell Van Gunst, Country Dairy
  • Milk Marketing Risk Management and Positioning Your Dairy Farm for the Future with Dr. Chris Wolf, MSU Department of Agriculture, Food, and Resource Economics
  • Spartan 3 Dairy Training with program architect Dr. Mike VandeHaar, MSU Department of Animal Science

Cullens thinks the best thing about this year’s conference is the effort the planning committee has taken to make sure workshops, panels and speakers are relevant to what dairy producers are dealing with today.

"This year we sought out producers for input on putting together the program, so it truly is a producer-driven conference," she said.

Other conference highlights include the sixth annual Great Lakes Commercial Heifer Extravaganza Sale, an industry trade show, purebred dairy breed association meetings and the Michigan Dairy Ambassador Scholarship and Leadership Program interviews.
Registration forms and a complete program schedule are available online at www.glrdc.msu.edu. Participants can also register and receive more information on the conference by calling MSU events coordinator Megghan Honke at 517-353-3175 ext. 229. Registrations received before Jan. 21 qualify for a $50 early bird discount. Online registration closes Jan. 28. On-site registrations are subject to availability.

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