Dairy leaders honored with World Dairy Expo Recognition Awards

Wisconsin State Farmer
World Dairy Expo 2017

MADISON – After a year hiatus – to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of World Dairy Expo – WDE is pleased to announce the return of Expo Recognition Awards and the four honorees selected this year. These individuals were nominated by their peers for their involvement and excellence in the dairy industry and their community.

World Dairy Expo is pleased to honor four dairy leaders as the 2017 World Dairy Expo Recognition Award winners. These individuals have dedicated their careers to improving and impacting the global dairy industry. They are herd owners and managers, serve in public office and own international businesses. The achievements of the 2017 awardees have reached all corners of the globe and facets of the dairy industry.

These dairy influencers will be recognized at the Dinner with the Stars banquet on the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017 in the Exhibition Hall at the Alliant Energy Center. The celebration will begin with a WDE Welcome Reception featuring hors d’oeuvres and drinks at 5 p.m., followed by a ticketed banquet at 7:00 p.m. Everyone is invited to attend this event honoring the award recipients. Following is a brief biography of each of the honorees.

Dairy Woman of the Year

Marilyn Hershey of Ar-Joy Farms LLC, Cochranville, PA, is a dairy farmer, industry leader and published author. Managing finances, assisting with milking and overseeing calf care on her family’s dairy farm, Ar-Joy Farms LLC, Hershey has an active role in the dairy’s success. Ar-Joy is home to 600 Registered Holsteins with a rolling herd average of 27,963 pounds of milk and – under Hershey’s watchful eye – maintains a less-than-one percent calf and heifer loss.

Marilyn Hershey

When not on the farm, Hershey is active in the board room; she serves as the vice-chair of Dairy Management, Inc., is the secretary of the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association Speakers Bureau and serves on the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board among other various community organizations.

Hershey and her husband Duane have four adult children, Stephen, Kelby, Robert and Kacie and one grandson, Wyatt.

Dairyman of the Year

With an entrepreneurial spirit, Charles Ahlem has played an important role in shaping the California dairy industry. As the owner of Charles Ahlem Ranch in Turlock, CA, he leads by example, becoming one of the first dairymen to install a rotary milking parlor and robotic post-dipping system, while also developing new milking hose support for rotary parlors.

Charles Ahlem

Striving to be on the cutting-edge, Ahlem piloted RFID chips for identification and management of his herd and utilizes the latest technology to apply manure water through a pivot irrigation system. The herd at Charles Ahlem Ranch is comprised of 6,500 Jerseys with a rolling herd average of 18,632 pounds of milk.

Ahlem is a founding co-owner of Hilmar Cheese Company, Inc. and Hilmar Ingredients, and is a founding member of Jerseyland Sires. In 2004, he was appointed by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to serve as the California Department of Food and Agriculture Undersecretary.

Ahlem and his wife, DruAnn, have three children, Lisa, David and Mark, and ten grandchildren.

Industry Person of the Year

Ben Brancel is the former Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, and has deep roots in the dairy industry. In 1975, Brancel and his wife, Gail, purchased his family’s dairy farm; together, they managed the herd of Registered Holsteins at Brancel Farms for two decades.

Ben Brancel

During this time, Brancel began his ten-year service as Representative for the 42nd Assembly District in the Wisconsin State Assembly. While in this role, he was co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee and was appointed Assembly Speaker for his ability to work with both political parties. Brancel’s positions in Wisconsin’s government have allowed him to be a voice for farmers as he helped develop and pass three major farm laws, including the Right to Farm Law.

In 1997, Brancel was appointed by former Governor, Tommy Thompson, as the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). This appointment would be a stepping stone to his time as the UDSA's, Farm Service Agency’s Wisconsin Director, as appointed by President Bush. He returned to his position as Secretary of the Wisconsin DATCP in 2011.

Brancel was a key player in the construction of the New Holland Pavilions at the Alliant Energy Center and can be found every year at World Dairy Expo volunteering with cattle check-in, presenting the Cow of the Year award or talking with exhibitors, international visitors and attendees. Brancel and his wife live in Endeavor, WI, and have three grown children, Tod, Michleen and Brandon, along with six grandchildren.

International Person of the Year

A native to the birthplace of the Jersey breed, Derrick Frigot has foraged a lifelong career promoting and improving Jersey cattle around the world. Frigot began his career at the Royal Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Society as the editor of the organization’s magazine, The Jersey at Home, at 16-years-old; he returned to the society 34 years later to serve as its president.

Derrick Frigot

In 1970, he became the manager of the Island of Jersey’s newly established Artificial Insemination Centre. The center, which was later renamed Jersey Island Semen Exports Limited, or JISEX International, soon was the only exporter of Jersey cattle genetics on the Island, exporting to 46 countries.

He served as the secretary-treasurer for the World Jersey Cattle Bureau for nearly three decades before being elected the vice-president and - subsequently - president, a position he still holds today. Frigot is an avid traveler and has spent the past 30 years leading and mentoring international dairy tours for young beginning farmers.

In 2014, Queen Elizabeth II honored Frigot with the Member of the Order of the British Empire for his “services to agriculture, particularly the Jersey breed of cattle.” He continues to live in Wuthering Heights on the Island of Jersey with his wife, Jenny. They have two adult children, Andrew and Sarah, and five grandchildren.