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World Dairy Expo to honor annual recognition award winners

Progressive Dairyman Staff Writer Jaclyn Krymowski Published on 29 September 2017

Once again, World Dairy Expo has announced its recipients of the Expo Recognition Awards. Industry peers nominated the individuals selected. All awards, while having different criteria, are based on involvement and excellence in both the dairy industry and local community.

This year the four individuals being honored are: Ben Brancel, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection; Marilyn Hershey, owner and manager of Ar-Joy Farm; Charles Ahlem, owner and operator of Charles Ahlem Ranch and Hilmar Cheese Company; and Derrick Frigot, owner of Jisex International.



Industry Person of the Year

WDE presents the Industry Person of the Year award to an individual who demonstrates excellence for research, development, education, marketing or other fields which are a part of an industry or institution that provides goods or services to the dairy industry.

Ben BrancelRecipient: Ben Brancel, Endeavor, Wisconsin
Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Platteville, Brancel served in the Wisconsin Assembly for seven years, beginning in 1986. In 1997, he was appointed by Governor Tommy G. Thompson to serve as state Secretary of Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

Accomplishments during his term include founding Wisconsin’s Discover Farms and Pioneer Farm projects. He was also a leading force in the revival of the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

In 2001, he left the position when he was appointed Wisconsin state director of the USDA’s Farm Services Agency. During this time he also served as the state relations liaison for University of Wisconsin – Madison’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Governor Scott Walker reappointed him as secretary in 2011.


Brancel is a fifth-generation farmer and raises Angus cattle on his 290-acre farm with his wife, son and daughter-in-law.

Dairy Woman and Man of the Year

WDE presents the Dairy Woman and Man of the Year awards to individuals who are active dairy producers of a farming operation that excels in efficient production and quality dairy breeding.

Marilyn HersheyRecipient: Marilyn Hershey, Cochranville, Pennsylvania
Ar-Joy Farm

Hershey owns and operates a 550-cow dairy with her husband and family. She is a regular columnist for Hoard’s Dairyman. Her column, “Common Thread,” details her farm experiences and unique industry insight as farmer, wife and mother.

In 2001, Hershey and her husband received the Distinguished Young Breeder Award from Pennsylvania Holstein Association for their work in herd improvement, expansion and community involvement.

A disaster shook the farm in 2014 when the roof on one of their largest barns collapsed under a winter storm. With the help of prayer, perseverance and a supportive community, they were able to quickly get back on their feet.


Charles AhlemRecipient: Charles “Chuck” Ahlem, Turlock, California
Charles Ahlem Ranch, Hilmar Cheese Company

Ahlem owns and operates a herd of 4,000 Jersey cows and farms 1,100 acres. He is also a founder of the Hilmar Cheese Company.

The company’s facility in Hilmar, California, processes and supplies cheese, whey protein and lactose cheese on a global scale. Producing more than two million pounds a day, the facility produces more cheese than any other in the world.

Charles Ahlem Ranch was one of the first dairies in California to install a rotary parlor. This decision was based on maximizing cow comfort and milking efficiency. Ahlem holds a degree in dairy science from California State University – Fresno.

He serves as a member on both the USDA Trade Policy Committee and the California Milk Advisory Board. In 2015, he was honored with the state’s Agriculturalist of the Year award.

International Person of the Year

WDE presents the International Person of the Year award to an individual who has contributed to the improvement of international relations or the development of the dairy industry on an international level. Winners must primarily reside outside the U.S.

Derrick FrigotRecipient: Derrick Frigot, Jersey, Channel Islands, United Kingdom
Owner of Jisex International

Serving as president of the World Jersey Cattle Bureau, Frigot is co-author of the book The Dairy Queen: A History of the Jersey Breed Worldwide. He was raised on an accomplished dairy farm; his uncle was a top national breeder and exporter of Jerseys.

After he finished school, Frigot was manager of the Jersey Artificial Insemination Centre, the island’s very first A.I. company. Today, he owns the British Jersey semen company Jisex. Frigot has dedicated over 50 years of his life to promoting the breed around the world.  end mark

These outstanding dairy leaders will be honored at a formal awards presentation during the Dinner with the Stars banquet on Oct. 4, 2017, in the Exhibition Hall at the Alliant Energy Center.

Prior to the banquet, a complimentary reception featuring hors d’oeuvres and drinks will be held for all Expo stakeholders with a chance to meet and greet the Expo honorees. Tickets to the banquet are required and available for the public to purchase from the Expo office at World Dairy Expo recognition banquet or (608) 224-6455.

Jaclyn Krymowski was a 2017 Progressive Dairyman editorial intern.