PDPW conference delivers tools needed for sharper focus

Showcasing over 40 speakers, including leadership and management experts, business advisors, scientists and researchers, economist and entrepreneurs, attendees of the 2020 PDPW Business Conference will access a variety of timely, cutting-edge educational experiences.

It’s imperative for farmers to maximize time off the farm when operating dynamic, fast-paced businesses. Fortunately, the personal and professional development needed to sharpen one’s leadership and management skill in the dairy industry have been assembled at one venue over just two days.

Presented by dairy’s professional development organization – Professional Dairy Producers® (PDPW), the 2020 PDPW Business Conference is held March 18-19 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wis. The two-day program will bring together dairy farmers, agribusiness and allied industries throughout the value chain.

As a farmer-led group, PDPW delivers the quality and quantity of best-in-class education, solution-oriented ideas, and collaborative networking that farmers request. The annual Conference has become dairy’s premier educational event and gathering place for continuous improvement.

Showcasing over 40 speakers, including leadership and management experts, business advisors, scientists and researchers, economist and entrepreneurs, attendees will access a variety of timely, cutting-edge educational experiences. The newly learned information and skill can be implemented back on the dairy immediately and is relevant to farms of all size, number of employees, and farming methods.

Open to the public, there is something for every farm and every position held, from owners to financial managers, herdspersons to cow/calf specialists, crop managers to feeders, and milkers and other support teams responsible for the day-to-day needs of the dairy.


Educational offerings

In addition to four big-stage Keynote sessions, attendees can select from 16 Specialty & Breakout Sessions offered over the course of two days, allowing for a deep-dive into the subject area. The format also lends itself to interactive surveying, in-class activities, producer-panels, and Q&A sessions to further explore the content.

The Hands-On Hub labs are consistently ranked among the favorite sessions by attendees. Led by trained veterinarians, attendees will explore three repeating sessions, including genetic strategy, calf care and maternity pen pathogen mitigation, and a live animal demonstration to focus on animal handling techniques.

The Learning Lounges offer 15 quick and practical 30-minute sessions, offering ideas and advancements in science, communication and management. Attendees can implement the insights immediately back on the dairy, as they focus on higher levels of performance and profitability.

Celebrating the heartland of dairy research, the Preview Stage will again showcase UW-Madison researchers and their Master’s degree students. Together, they will connect the dots between research results and the implications to the dairy industry. Attendees can view the student’s research boards and listen to the live presentations underlining the research methods, findings, and conclusions, and follow up with brief Q&A.

The educational offerings noted above are divided into four learning subjects:

  • Animal care & food safety
  • Business & financial
  • Human resources, management, and next generation
  • Social license - consumer trust, environment & policy

The diversified learning subjects offer a variety of resources and solutions to benefit the learning style of the attendee, whether best absorbed through lecture, collaboration, or hands-on interactive experience. Featured sessions in the four learning subjects include:

Animal Care & Food Safety

Dr. Luiz Ferraretto, will outline available options to deal with feed shortages and poor-quality feed, during his repeating afternoon Breakout Session “What are we going to do with this feed?!,” Wed., Mar. 18.

Luiz Ferraretto

Dr. Don Höglund, DVM, will show how dairy animals interpret and respond to their surroundings, during his repeating Hands-On Hub lab “Live animal demonstration: understand how cattle learn,” Wed. and Thur., Mar. 18-19.

Serving as Director of the Dairy Innovation Hub, Dr. Heather White will share updates on dairy’s most critical investment in research and shed light on how it will impact dairy farmers’ future, in her afternoon Learning Lounge Session “Dairy Innovation Hub Updates,” Wed., Mar. 18.

Business & Financial

Dr. Mike Overton, DVM, will walk through multiple scenarios to help determine how many replacement heifers a dairy should raise, in his morning Specialty Session “Putting numbers to the heifers,” Wed., Mar. 18.

Mike Apley

Dr. Mike Apley, DVM, PhD, will break down what the term “antibiotic resistance” means, how it applies to the farm, and how to protect animal health through antimicrobial stewardship, during his repeating afternoon Breakout Session “Impacts of antibiotic resistance,” Thur., Mar. 19.

Jeremy Cherny, an IT cybersecurity and business-solutions expert, will share misconceptions and solutions to protect the dairy business, financial and employee data that lives in and out of the “cloud,” in his morning Learning Lounge Session “3-2-1 Backup: best practices to protect your cloud data,” Wed., Mar. 18.

HR, Management & Next Gen

Dave Saunders will share the hottest technology tools available and outline new ways their existing tools match up with the ag sector’s most critical needs. Partnering with Saunders, Walt Cooley, editor-in-chief of Progressive Dairy magazine, will ask the tough questions about what the biggest breakthroughs will be for dairying, during their morning Specialty Session “Tech talk: Blockchain, 5G, machine learning,” Wed., Mar. 18.

Michael Hoffman

Michael Hoffman will share the good news that work culture and mindset change is possible, during his morning Specialty Session “Ignite Performance,” Thur., Mar. 19.

Holly Green will shed light on the complexities of the brain and the practical tools need to help make effective choices and focus, during her repeating afternoon Breakout Session “Unharnessing your brain’s potential,” Wed., Mar. 18.

Social License – Consumer Trust, Environment & Policy

Mike McCloskey will address net zero and carbon trading to showcase how dairy could be leagues ahead in partnering and trading with other industries to offset pollutions and benefit the dairy farm, during his morning Specialty Session “Carbon trading,” Thur., Mar. 19.

Damon Smith

Damon Smith, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist at UW-Madison will teach how to plan and manage a successful silage corn crop in an increasingly challenging growing seasons, during his afternoon Learning Lounge Session “Growing forward,” Wed., Mar. 18.

Francisco Arriaga, Associate Professor and Extension Soil Specialist at UW-Madison will share insights to manage saturated and compact soils post 2019’s growing season, in his afternoon Learning Lounge Session ”Solutions for Soggy Soils,” Thur., Mar. 19.

All about focus

“2020 is all about focus – getting your hands around the wheel and strengthening your team, business and mind. The conference is filled with practical solutions and the latest in sound business strategy, culture-driven management, and cow-centric dairy research that provides a clear vision for dairying,” said Shelly Mayer, dairy producer and PDPW executive director.

Professional Dairy Producers® 2020 Business Conference is held March 18-19 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wis.

Driven by the PDPW mission to share ideas, solutions, resources and experiences that help dairy producers succeed, fellow dairy farmers created this program with lasting impact to deliver the tools needed for a sharper focus within the dairy business, while also incorporating peer-to-peer collaboration.

To learn more or register online for the 2020 PDPW Business Conference, visit www.PDPW.org or contact PDPW at 800-947-7379. Follow along digitally in advance of and during the event by following @dairyPDPW and using #Focus2020 on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.