For the first time ever at World Ag Expo, Progressive Dairyman will present nine dairy-specific seminars. Editors will host prominent experts addressing forefront U.S. dairy industry issues at each of the hour-long sessions. Several of the sessions will highlight forward-thinking dairies and their straightforward owners in a virtual farm tour format. Click here or on the image above to view it at full size in a new window.

Focused on the needs and strategies of large-scale Western dairies, the seminars will provide open-minded producers who are looking for solutions a bevy of ideas to tackle their everyday challenges.

Lunch will be provided at all noon-hour seminars. Seminar attendees will also receive a gift bag for participation.

All seminars will be held in an enclosed, climate-controlled room in the Expo Seminar Center at the intersection of R Street and Expo Lane. The dedicated complex for beef, dairy and forage seminars is just a minute’s walk to the south from the Farm Credit Dairy Center.

Each of the seminars is explained in further detail below.


Tuesday, February 14

10 a.m.
Join the Conversation about the Food You Produce
Topic: Communicating with consumers
During this seminar, which focuses on strengthening conversations with consumers, the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance will present insight into how today’s consumers feel about their food and the questions they have about food production.

As farmers and ranchers, we’ve raised pretty much everything, except our voices. With this program, you can join the conversation and walk away with ideas to put in action immediately.

The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance is a coalition of more than 70 national, regional and state agricultural groups and their partners committed to continuously improving how food is grown and raised to provide healthy choices for people everywhere.

USFRA marks the first time a wide range of agricultural groups are collaborating to lead the dialogue on how food is grown and raised in America.

Virtual Farm Tour: Tony DeGroot Dairy of Hanford, California
Topic: Nutrition
Tony DeGroot, Sr., began dairying in the Central Valley in 1966. Now, more than 50 years later, the family’s third generation is involved in day-to-day operations. Tony prides himself on his family’s ability to adapt to changes in the dairy business and willingness to try out new ideas.

Hear about his most recent innovations, including the trial of a new yeast-derived protein source known as dietary escape microbial protein or DEMP. Feeding this new protein source maintained the dairy’s high milk production while feeding fewer traditional sources of supplemental protein, such as canola.

2 p.m.
How is the dairy checkoff investing my money?
Topic: Dairy promotion
Listen to a current update about how checkoff dollars are being used to advance dairy farmers’ image with consumers and promote consumption of dairy products.

Wednesday, February 15

10 a.m.
Outlook on dairy’s 2012 prices and beyond
Topic: Risk management
You do your best to secure the optimum prices you can for milk and commodity ingredients for your dairy, but at the end of the day you are still tied to the mercy of the marketplace. Rolling with current volatility can feel a lot like riding a roller coaster in the dark.

This session will take a deep look into global and domestic markets, what they are currently doing, why these prices are occurring and what is predicted to happen in the future. Listen to this session’s economic expert so you can have a better idea of what’s around the next turn.


Virtual Farm Tour: John Verhaar of Bad Axe, Michigan
Topic: Immigration
John Verhaar of Aquila Farms near Bad Axe, Michigan, was recently convicted of hiring and harboring unauthorized workers.

He was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay hefty fines. John believes his challenges in finding qualified labor for his dairy are similar to other producers.

Hear him explain his hiring protocols and experience in dealing with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). He says what happened to him could happen to others. Click here or on the image above to watch a sneak peek video and more about John's dairy's experience.

2 p.m.
Unlocking the potential of methane digester systems on dairy farms
Topic: Manure management
According to the U.S. EPA’s AgSTAR program, anaerobic digesters are technically feasible at more than 2,600 U.S. dairy operations, but many early adopters of methane digester systems have found the capital investment, operating costs, financial risk and regulatory hurdles are not supported by the current market conditions and energy policies.

This session explains why dairy farms are uniquely positioned to benefit from the growing anaerobic digester industry and explores the emerging “project finance” business model, which has the potential to make digester systems a much more profitable business venture for dairy producers.

Case studies on projects already putting this model into practice will be reviewed. Speakers include:

Thursday, February 16
  • Thursday, February 16

(from left to right)

  • Lynne McBride , Executive Director, California Dairy Campaign
  • Rob Vandenheuvel , General Manager, Milk Producers Council
  • Mike Marsh , CEO, Western United Dairymen

Come prepared with questions on dairy policy, environmental regulations, milk pricing, etc. Session will be moderated by Progressive Dairyman Editor Walt Cooley.

Research update
Topic: Cow cooling
Hear about new research on cow cooling from University of Arizona Extension specialist and researcher John F. Smith. He will discuss new findings from a large-herd dairy study conducted in Arizona and what it means to dairymen considering future facility design and cow cooling decisions.

2 p.m.
Wisdom in minutes
Topic: Technology use
Attend this session and take home a tip or trick to improve your dairy’s efficiency. The hour-long session will feature 10-minute mini-presentations from leading California dairy producers, nutritionists and veterinarians.

Each will share a tool they’ve discovered to save you time, money or unnecessary hassle. The seminar will be round-robin with many different presenters. Topics will include cloud computing, social media, harnessing technology and more.

A sample of the invited participants include:

00_prock_ray 00_giacomazzi_dino 00_lee_john 00_smalley_steve 00_adams_liz

(from left to right)

Ray Prock
Prock manages a 500-cow dairy in Denair, California. He is a dairy social media early adopter and heavy user of smartphone technology.

Dino Giacomazzi
Giacomazzi manages a dairy in Hanford, California. He recently went to a paper-less record management system using both a smartphone and tablet.

Dr. John Lee
Lee is a technical service veterinarian with Pfizer Animal Health based in Bakersfield, California.

Dr. Steve Smalley
Smalley is a technical service veterinarian for Pfizer Animal Health and Southwest regional director for AABP, based in Chandler, Arizona.

Dr. Liz Adams
Liz Adams is a staff veterinarian for three Jersey dairies in Hilmar, California. She is responsible for milk quality, weekly herd preg checks using ultrasound to check for fetal sexing and newborn calf care. PD