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Wisconsin’s Dairy Business Association gathers for conference

PD Editor Peggy Coffeen Published on 31 December 2013

Wisconsin's Dairy Business Association attendees

Dairy producers and industry supporters convened on Dec. 3-4 for the Dairy Business Association’s 14th annual business conference.



Held at the Madison Concourse Hotel, just steps from the Wisconsin State Capitol, the meeting kicked off with a salute from Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Walker has demonstrated strong support for dairy growth and development since his 2011 inauguration.

Robin Vos receiving the Dairy Business Association Leadership Award

He emphasized a positive outlook for “more milk, more production and more opportunities” for both dairy producers and Wisconsin-based processors.

Jerry Meissner, DBA board president and dairyman from Chili, Wisconsin, set the stage for the program, telling his members that “rather than playing defense, we are staying on the offense” when it comes to regulations and policies that affect their dairies.

Daphe Holterman receiving Dairy Business Assocation Advocate Award


This mantra was reflected throughout the program as panels of experts in the fields of water, manure, energy and exports took the platform.

Featured speaker Rick Berman, executive director of the Center for Consumer Freedom and president of Berman and Company, brought an alarming message to the group regarding the agenda of the Humane Society of the United States.

Panel of experts discussing water shortage

Calling HSUS a “slicker version of PETA,” he warned, “The dairy industry is just as much in the crosshairs of HSUS as people who hunt for sport, as the pork industry, as the chicken industry, veal and red meat.”

During the annual business meeting, the membership re-elected incumbent dairy producer board member Mike Gerrits, Country Aire Farms LLC, and corporate board member Mike North, First Capitol Ag.

Panel discussing making money from manure


Newly elected to the board is Gordon Speirs, Shiloh Dairy. Speirs was also appointed as vice president to Meissner, who was re-appointed as the group’s leader.

DBA also presented two prestigious awards sponsored by VitaPlus during the conference.

Wisconsin cheese

Dairy producer Daphne Holterman, Rosy-Lane Holsteins LLC, Watertown, Wisconsin, was recognized with the DBA Advocate Award, and State Representative and Speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly Robin Vos was honored with the DBA Leadership Award. PD

TWO: Recognized for his role in supporting a favorable climate for dairy growth, State Representative and Speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly Robin Vos (center) received the DBA Leadership Award. He is pictured here with Laurie Fischer and Jerry Meissner (far left), representing DBA, and Andy Nytes (far right), representing Vita Plus.

THREE: Dairy producer Daphne Holterman took home the well-deserved DBA Advocate Award in recognition of her tireless efforts to educate, advocate and promote the dairy industry. From left to right: Laurie Fischer, DBA executive director; Marjorie Stieve, Vita Plus; Holterman; and Jerry Meissner, DBA board president.

FOUR: “Water Shortage – True or False?” was the topic of discussion for a panel of experts that included (from left to right) Dr. Charles Andrews, S.S. Papadopulos & Associates, Inc.; Dr. George Kraft, Center for Watershed Science and Education; A.J. Bussan, University of Wisconsin – Madison Horticulture Department; and Jim Wysocki, Golden Sands Dairy. Attorney Anna Wildeman, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, facilitated the discussion.

FIVE: Making money from manure was the theme of a second panel, moderated by Jennifer Keuning (right), environmental scientist with Conestoga-Rovers and Associates. Murray Sim (left) of Clean Energy North America discussed the New Chester Clean Energy project that consists of a large digester at New Chester Dairy and a 16-mile private biogas pipeline to a combined heat and power plant at Brakebush Brothers’ chicken plant near Westfield, Wisconsin. Ross Thurston (center) of Livestock Water Recycling, Inc. talked about a project that will capture nutrients and recycle water on a Wisconsin dairy. Photos provided by DBA.


Peggy Coffeen
Progressive Dairyman