State dairy convention comes to Columbus

February 27, 2019

Cheese and milk were good and plenty on Tuesday at the Ramada Hotel & River’s Edge Convention Center in Columbus.

The samples were available for all who attended the Nebraska State Dairy Association’s 134th annual convention, which has been held in Columbus the past five years.

Executive Director Rod Johnson said the organization planned on about 200 people being in attendance. The goal of the conference is to update dairy producers on the current state of the industry, both on a national and state levels, while building enthusiasm among the association’s members.

“It’s a networking opportunity for the dairy industry,” Johnson said. “The purpose of the conference is to really bring people together. It all fits into the package of networking and working with each other in the industry.”

The conference featured panels on nutrition, farm management and hosted a presentation on national policy from the National Milk Producers Federation. The event featured a networking event for women in the industry hosted by The Dairy Girl Network. The NSDA held elections for seats on its board at the event and awards were also given out during an evening banquet. The 2019 Dairy Princess was also crowned as part of the festivities.

Lowell Dell of DelTu Farm runs a 250-dairy cow operation out of Beatrice. This was the second time he’s attended the state convention. One of his main concerns with the industry is getting younger generations involved, especially with smaller operations like his own.

“I like to see what the dairy association is doing (and) what they think the future of dairy is in the state. I think it’s real tenuous, but it’s tenuous everywhere,” Dell said. “I just think it’s so difficult for young people to look at it and say, ‘I want to commit that much time to my work.’”

Nearly 40 vendors had booths set up at the event’s trade show. They included businesses relating to animal health, farm buildings, dairy equipment and cattle forage. One of the vendor booths present was Shane McClure of Cedar Rapids with Legend Seeds. He said Tuesday morning was a bit slow, but expected things to pick up with warmer weather in the afternoon.

“The weather is a little bit unfavorable, but there’s nothing we can do about that … (I’ve had) Pretty good conversation with a few guys, which I’m sure will continue throughout the day,” McClure said. “We’re excited to be here. I think the dairy world is kind of a specific group of people and we definitely need our dairy men and dairy women in the state, and I think this a pretty good event and I’m sure we’ll get more people throughout the day.”

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.