By MaryBeth Matzek
MAA Editor
MADISON, Wis. — Hundreds of dairy farmers and industry professionals will gather here in mid-January for Dairy Strong: The Journey Forward, a two-day conference focused on the dairy industry.
The event, which will be held Jan. 18-19 at the Monona Terrace Convention & Community Center, marks the third year for Dairy Strong, which saw tremendous growth between its first and second years, with more than 600 attendees from 17 states and four countries attending in 2016.
When putting together the lineup of speakers for Dairy Strong, Maria Woldt, director of industry relations at Dairy Business Association, focused on the challenges and opportunities faced by today’s dairy farmers.
“The theme – the journey forward – looks at the regulatory issues facing dairy farmers as well as the various sustainability initiatives taking place,” she said. “We’ll be looking at what can be done to sustain and move the industry forward.”

Journalist and political commentator Dana Perino, who grew up on a ranch in Wyoming, will deliver the opening keynote address. Perino was the White House press secretary under President George W. Bush and co-host of Fox’s “The Five” in addition to being a political commentator on Fox News.  
Five breakout sessions will also be offered on Jan. 18:
• “From Silicon Valley to Silicon Farms: how big dairy can learn from big data” by Ben Keating of Milker LLC
• “Nutrient Trading and the Future of Farm-Based Nutrient Management” by Steven Rowe of Newtrient
• “What does the dairy industry look like in 2025?” by Ryan Sirolli of Cargill
• “2017 Dairy Market Outlook” by David Bullock and Quinn Anderson of Agribank
• “Environmental foot printing in dairy: Greenhouse gas emissions, carbon footprint, life cycle assessment and new regulations” by Dr. Frank Mitloehner of the University of California-Davis Department of Animal Science
There will be two different sessions so attendees can attend multiple programs.
rich, an acclaimed futurist and speaker and the best-selling author of Foresight 20/20, will speak in the evening to close out the conference’s first day.
On Jan. 19, there will be several panel discussions focused on different issues facing the ag industry. One will look at the farmer-led conservation focused on Peninsula Pride Farms, a group of Kewaunee and southern Door county farmers while another will look at the growing Latino influence on U.S. food manufacturing.
The conference was condensed into a two-day event since organizers realize how challenging it is for farmers to be away from their operations. 
“We had an afternoon and evening session the first day and then a full second day, followed by a morning session on a third day,” Woldt said. “We just squeezed everything into two days. We didn’t lose anything – we just kept it to two days instead of spreading it over three days.”
One new addition to Dairy Strong this year is the Innovation Stage presentations, which will be held on the trade show floor, where companies will have an opportunity to discuss new products and services, Woldt said.
“People will be able to come and go as the topic interests them,” she said, adding the sessions will each last about 20 minutes.
Dairy Strong will also feature an automated registration process, Woldt said. Attendees will go up to a kiosk where they will check in and print out their name badge. “It will speed up the entire process,” she said.
For more on Dairy Strong, click here.


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