Dairy Strong 2019: Inspiring words, expert advice

The 2019 Dairy Strong conference drew together hundreds of farmers, business leaders and others for camaraderie, enlightenment, inspiration, updates and, of course, milk.

Here’s a sampling of what the attendees heard:

Dean Strauss

“A lot of people don’t want to get involved with something unless it benefits them. But it’s just the right thing to do.”

Dean Strauss, the Dairy Business Association’s Advocate of the Year, about providing community support

“When she talked about parking the craziness, where you turn off what you’re stressing about and focus on what you can show up for, that’s what struck me as helpful.”

Laura Aeschliman of Shawano after listening to motivational speaker and former sports agent Molly Fletcher

“John was an innovator and a visionary and most certainly would want all of us to keep our eye on the future.”

Milk toast to John Pagel

Jerry Meissner, board member of Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, leading a milk toast to John Pagel of Pagel’s Ponderosa Dairy in Kewaunee and a founder of the cooperative, who passed away.

“We are heat-seeking beings — we want some of that joyfulness to enter us. We return loyalty to any source of joy or delight. It’s easy to be loyal to the people behind a product. It’s hard to be loyal to a product.”

Ken Schmidt, Harley-Davidson’s former communication director, talking about branding and getting customers excited about the people behind a business

“What gets me up every morning is to think about my own family and those like you who get up, milk cows every morning, midday and evening… We (at the Office of the United States Trade Representative) think first of the farmer and the rancher.”

Ted McKinney, under secretary of agriculture for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, appearing via Skype

“Technology can be very exciting, but those investing in it need to maintain realistic expectations.”

Dr. Jeffrey Bewley, a dairy housing and analytics specialist with Alltech

“The diversity of the Wisconsin dairy industry is something we need to value. One type of agriculture doesn’t need to fail in order for another to succeed. We have more to gain by building each other up than by tearing each other down.”

Brad Pfaff

Brad Pfaff, newly appointed secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection

“We are condemned to being an agricultural, industrial, financial and military superpower. Decades of bipartisan effort have yet to screw this up. And we’re not going to figure out how in the next few years.”

Peter Zeihan, geopolitical strategist

“People are buying a wider variety of things. You’re selling food, but it’s a people business. It’s important to spend some time finding out who your customers are.”

James Baerwolf, owner of Baerwolf Dairies and Sassy Cow Creamery in Columbus

Check out Dairy Strong’s YouTube channel for more videos.

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