The 2022 Professional Dairy Producers (PDPW) Business Conference brought together more than 1,200 dairy producers and industry professionals March 16-17 at Kalahari Resorts in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.

“Bold ideas, big results” was the theme of the 2022 program, which featured nearly 60 speakers during two days of learning, interactive sessions and networking opportunities.

Keynote sessions brought together some of the top minds in the country for compelling panel discussions on renewable energy opportunities, consumer trends, markets and other essential subjects.

The opening session showcased renewable energies as presenters discussed social expectations, new technologies, lessons from the logging and timber sector, and highlighted the moral and ethical obligations the dairy industry faces while finding ways to maintain and improve our resources for future generations.

Opening keynote speakers included Bruce Vincent, third-generation logger from Libby, Montana; Dr. Frank Mitloehner, professor and air quality extension specialist, department of animal science, University of California – Davis; Dr. Richard Kyte, endowed professor and director of the D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership at Viterbo University; and Tom Thibodeau, distinguished professor of servant leadership and director of Master of Arts in servant leadership program at Viterbo University.


Managing and predicting the whims of the supply chain has proven a colossal task. The same can be said for extreme weather events and the increasing power yielded by pandemic-era consumers. On Thursday, three presenters provided dairy producers with information to help them stay ahead of these complex challenges.

Charlie Arnot, CEO of the Center for Food Integrity, offered insight on how to produce goods consumers want and effectively determine what they’ll want in the future.

Eric Snodgrass, principal atmospheric scientist at Nutrien Ag Solutions, highlighted the long-range weather patterns forecast regionally and globally, and the implications for crop production and yields for producers worldwide. He also spoke to how extreme weather such as flooding, tornadoes and hurricanes has disrupted transportation of fertilizers, feedstuffs, food products and more.

Dr. Marin Bozic, assistant professor, department of applied economics at University of Minnesota and associate director of Midwest Dairy Foods Research Center, teased out the core economic principles and market patterns that will enable producers to continue to pivot and successfully manage their businesses.

Hank Wagner recognized with Dean Strauss Leadership Award

Hank Wagner accepts the Dean Strauss Leadership awardHank Wagner accepts the Dean Strauss Leadership Award from Shelly Mayer, executive director of PDPW. Photo courtesy of PDPW.

Hank Wagner was honored as the second recipient of the Dean Strauss Leadership Award. Wagner is a fourth-generation dairy farmer and president of Wagner Farms Inc. in Oconto Falls, Wisconsin, as well as an author, speaker and business coach. He’s been involved in many organizations and has served in several leadership positions, including leading as PDPW board president.

“Hank is a true example of a servant leader – the epitome of all the Dean Strauss Leadership Awards stands for,” said Shelly Mayer, PDPW executive director. “Hank lives his life to serve others and help them understand they have value and can achieve whatever they purpose to do.”

The Dean Strauss Leadership Award was established by the PDPW board of directors in 2021 in honor of Dean Strauss, a Wisconsin dairy farmer and industry leader who unexpectedly passed away in 2019 at the age of 48. The owner of Majestic Meadows Dairy LLC, Strauss was active in several dairy organizations and leadership boards, including PDPW’s board, on which he served as president.

PDPW board elected

PDPW board membersDairy producers Ken Feltz, John Haag and Corey Hodorff were reelected to the PDPW board of directors. Board members include, from left to right, back row: John Haag, Corey Hodorff, Kurt Petik, Brady Weiland, Ken Feltz, Steven Orth; front row: Janet Clark, Katy Schultz, Roger Olson, Eric Birschbach, Paul Lippert, Peter Weber and Andy Buttles. Photo courtesy of PDPW.

Conference attendees were introduced to their 2022-23 board members at the close of the recent event. Re-elected were Wisconsin dairy producers Ken Feltz, Feltz Family Farms Inc., Stevens Point; John Haag, Haag Dairy LLC, Dane; and Corey Hodorff, Second-Look Holsteins LLC, Eden.

Other PDPW board members include Andy Buttles, Stone-Front Farm, Lancaster; Janet Clark, Vision Aire Farms LLC, Rosendale; Paul Lippert, Grass Ridge Farm, Pittsville; Steven Orth, Orthland Dairy Farm LLC, Cleveland; Katy Schultz, Tri-Fecta Farms Inc., Fox Lake; and Brady Weiland, Weiland Dairy LLC, Columbus.

Serving as PDPW board advisers to the 2022-23 board are Eric Birschbach of Ag Site Crop Consulting LLC, Roger Olson of Zinpro Corporation, Kurt Petik of Rabo AgriFinance and Peter Weber of Genex Cooperative.

2023 Business Conference theme, dates announced

Plans will soon be underway for the 2023 PDPW Business Conference. Set for March 15-16, 2023, at Kalahari Resorts in Wisconsin Dells, the theme will be “empowering success.”