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FRANKENMUTH, MI -- The 15th annual Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference, Feb. 2-4 at the Bavarian Inn and Conference Center in Frankenmuth, Michigan, will focus on the latest in milk quality, hoof care, antimicrobial drug use, consumer transparency and market outlooks to help dairy producers remain successful today and into the future.

New this year, the United Dairy Industry of Michigan (UDIM) will provide an overview of dairy promotion activities. This program will take place before the conference on Wednesday at 6 p.m. and is open to those attending the conference as well as the general public. The informal dinner meeting will provide an opportunity to share how the UDIM staff works on behalf of farmers to promote dairy across the state and will give farmers a chance to ask questions about programs. There is no cost to attend.

The day kicks off Thursday with a preconference session in which Michigan producers, managers and employees will discuss progress and pitfalls of antimicrobial drug use in Michigan herds, gained from a study funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Next, producers will hear from Thomas Bailey, vice president dairy analyst with Rabobank Food and Agribusiness Research and Advisory dairy team as he shares his insights into where the global dairy industry is headed. Bailey will give producers a chance to discuss what these changes mean to their bottom line.

Following the global discussion, the conference will shift its focus and hear from Charlie Arnot with the Center for Food Integrity and Chad Frahm with the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy as they help producers understand consumer demands and explore what is needed to build trust with consumers and processors to ensure a transparent food supply. Producers will have the opportunity to talk with these experts about the challenges they face and what can be done to reduce confusion and find a common ground for all.

The afternoon will wrap up with a detailed look at dairying Down Under with James Mann of Donovan’s Dairy, a 2,000-cow dairy that is on a partial mixed ration and pasture system. He will also discuss how it uses the latest technology, including genomic testing, to manage the herd and then showcase the opportunities and challenges of dairying in Australia. He will discuss Australia’s perspective on the global dairy industry and share his experiences in promoting dairy through the Dairy Australia Board.

The Exhibitor Showcase, Dairy Challenge Presentation, Great Lakes Commercial Heifer Extravaganza XII Sale and an entertaining night of Loos Tales with comedian Trent Loos round out the evening. Loos will share stories from his world travels about the amazing people that are making a difference in so many fields in countless ways.  Whether you prefer a pen and paper or a podcast, your story can change a life, and Trent will show you how. He will encourage participants to let their heartfelt passions help them define a meaningful purpose in their lives today.

Individual (adult), student and farm registration options are available. Attendees who register by Jan. 20 will save up to $25 per day. Online registration closes Jan. 29 at midnight. On-site registrations are subject to availability.

Visit www.glrdc.msu.edu to get the complete conference schedule or to register online. Participants can also register by phone by calling 517-884-7089.

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