Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference will be held virtually Feb. 4-5

Taking place Feb. 4-5, the 19th annual Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference will go virtual in 2021.

Experts will share strategies and projections to help producers and industry representatives make the most of the next year and beyond.

Dairy producers have navigated unprecedented challenges for the past five years and the novel coronavirus only added to these difficult and challenging times. This year’s conference is designed to hit these challenges head on and provide producers with important updates and information to help them stay competitive and improve their operation.

The conference will feature three, two-hour sessions and a bonus session hosted by Michigan State University Extension, according to Committee Chair Brian Troyer.

“While we are incredibility disappointed that we are not able to gather for our annual meeting face to face, we are excited to share three specific sessions with producers and industry representatives,” Troyer said. “The sessions will provide attendees with both the 30,000-foot-level perspective of the industry and more detailed sessions to enhance practical applications on the farm.”

The first session will take place 10:30 a.m. Feb. 4 featuring Mary Ledman, global dairy strategist with Rabobank. Ledman is a thought leader who has extensive knowledge of domestic and international dairy markets, policy and has more than 30 years of experience in production agriculture, food processing, government service, agricultural policy, dairy risk management, market information and dissemination, and milk and dairy product price forecasting.

In addition to her global experience, Ledman is familiar with the Midwest and unique financial challenges presented in Michigan. She will provide recommendations to help your business thrive in 2021 and beyond.

The second session will start 7 p.m. Feb. 4 and feature Tangaroa Walker, a dairy producer and social media influencer from Southland, New Zealand. He will provide a virtual tour of his operation, discuss the challenges and successes of operating in New Zealand and share his perspective on the global dairy market. In addition, he will discuss his journey into social media and how that has helped enhance his operation.

The last formal conference session will take place 10:30 a.m. Feb. 4 with a focus on Raising the Perfect Calf: Your Future Herd Profit Center with Sandra Godden, DVM, DVSc from the University of Minnesota, with tips on how to manage newborn calves to ensure a lifetime of performance and profitability.

Godden will discuss current recommendations for key management areas for care of the pre-weaned calf, including goals for monitoring health and growth, transfer of passive immunity, newborn care, colostrum management, nutritional management, and pros and cons of individual versus group housing systems.

MSU Extension is hosting a bonus session with a focus on how strategic planning can change the dairy and is scheduled 2 to 3:30 p.m. Feb. 5. MSU Extension experts Melissa McKendree, Stan Moore, Corey Clark, Jonathan LaPorte, and Barry Bradford, along with a panel of producers, will discuss strategic business planning for dairies. The producers will share how they have gone through significant changes in their own dairy businesses.

The conference will also feature a short informational presentation hosted by the United Dairy Industry of Michigan as a part of each session where you will hear an overview of the organization’s dairy promotional activities.

In addition to the exceptional educational sessions, attendees can connect with various agricultural companies by visiting the website sponsor page or joining the networking session. In addition, producers will have the opportunity to purchase heifers and cows through Kreeger and Associates GLRDC All Breeds Online Exchange on Thursday evening.

For more information about the conference or to register online, visit To register by phone, call 517-884-7089.