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Dairy Farmers to Gather in Mt. Pleasant

Published: Friday, December 29, 2017

The 16th annual Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference, Feb. 8-10, at the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mt. Pleasant, Mich., will shine the light on a variety of strategies producers can use to survive and thrive during one of the most critical periods in agriculture.

The United Dairy Industry of Michigan will host a session Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. to provide an overview of dairy promotion activities to dairy farmers who attend the conference or who live near the conference location. The informal meeting will provide an opportunity to share with dairy farmers how UDIM staff members work on their behalf to promote dairy across the state. It will give farmers an opportunity to ask questions about programs.

The conference kicks off Feb. 8 with a pre-conference session in which Michigan producers and experts will examine the major drivers of the mailbox milk price and consider options that farmers have to influence or manage their milk check income.

Next, producers will hear from Gary Sipiorski of Vita Plus Inc., who will highlight the current status of the industry, and show producers where there is light and what they can do to guide their operations through the fog. Following the industry discussion, Mark Stephenson of the University of Wisconsin, will delve further into milk pricing and the challenges in the Midwest.

Then, Nate Donnay, director of dairy market insight at INTL FCStone, will break down current global and local factors affecting milk prices and discuss what producers should expect in the next 12 to 24 months. He will also talk about the continued challenges and possible opportunities for the Great Lakes Region.

Late afternoon will feature Brandon Treichler, Select Milk Producers quality control veterinarian, explaining how labs test milk for quality parameters and how the results help identify opportunities to produce higher quality milk as well as basic troubleshooting strategies when bacteria counts rise. The focus will be on Lab Pasteurized Counts but other common bacteria counts will be discussed as well.

The afternoon will wrap up with Sipiorski, Stephenson, Donnay and Treichler offering an "All Things Milk Q and A" where producers can fire questions at the experts. The evening will feature an Exhibitor Showcase and the Great Lakes Commercial Heifer Extravaganza XIII Sale.

The conference continues Feb. 9 with Peter Hansen of the University of Florida, who will decode the data and share strategies to help producers make the most profitable decisions for the future of their farms in regard to understanding the science of genomics. This session will be followed by a panel of producers from across the U.S. who will share their IVF strategies.

Kathryn Proudfoot of Ohio State University will explore how you can use dairy cow behavior to help you make better management and housing decisions at calving. She will discuss practical ways to allow dairy cows to seek the seclusion they look for as they prepare to give birth that will help you bust the bulk tank down the line.

The morning will wrap up with David Kohl, Virginia Tech professor emeritus, who will discuss how dairies can position themselves for success in the economic reset. This session will examine both the short-run and long-run economic and financial picture. What are the adjustments producers and lenders must make to position for success? Kohl will provide a new look at burn rate, not only on working capital, but also on core land equity, along with trends that will have an impact on the industry now and by 2030.

Friday afternoon, attendees will have the choice of three educational workshops to attend:

• Lean Farming, Susanne Pejstrup, Lean Farming Inc. Farmers will learn strategies in lean farming to help increase productivity. Pejstrup will explain how farmers can introduce standards, systematic work procedures and structure, and the culture of continuous improvement to improve the bottom line.

• Labor Regulations and Legal Requirements, Karl W. Butterer, Foster Swift Collins & Smith PC. Labor policy, regulations and requirements are confusing and constantly changing. Attorney Butterer will share the latest changes in policy, and explain labor regulations and requirements that farmers need to know to ensure their operation is in compliance. Producers are encouraged to bring their questions to the session.

• Robotics Producer Panel. Producers who have installed robotic systems from Lely, DeLaval and GEA will share their experiences in a panel discussion. Hear their successes and stumbles from install to operation and their best management strategies to move their operations forward.

The Holstein Assn. will conduct their annual meeting on Feb. 10 starting at 9 a.m.

Individual, student and farm registration options are available. Registrations received by Jan. 21, will save you up to $25 per day. Online registration closes Feb. 4 at midnight. On-site registrations are subject to availability.

Visit to get the complete conference schedule or to register online. Participants can also register by phone by calling 517/884-7089.

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