World Dairy Expo: Recognizes global dairy leaders

Wisconsin State Farmer

Two Wisconsin dairy farmers are among the recipients of World Dairy Expo's prestigious 2022 Expo Recognition Awards. Nominated and selected by their peers, these individuals have made remarkable contributions to the dairy industry and their communities.

Honorees will be formally honored during the Recognition Awards Banquet at World Dairy Expo on Wednesday, October 5, 2022. Banquet tickets will be available at worlddairyexpo.com beginning on July 1.

The 2022 Expo Recognition Award honorees are as follows:

John Ruedinger listens to a question from the crowd while his wife Karen holds their granddaughter Ava Zappa during the Agricultural Community Education program held at Ruedinger Farms in northern Fond du Lac County.

Dairy Producer of the Year

John Ruedinger, co-owner of Ruedinger Farms Inc., of Van Dyne, Wis., is a leader in the dairy industry not only on his own farm but in organizations supporting his community and the global dairy industry. Ruedinger has served in leadership roles that placed him in the room during the creation of Cooperative Resources International and URUS.

On the farm, Ruedinger, his wife, Karen, and daughter and son-in-law, Jamie and David Zappa, operate Ruedinger Farms, Inc. together. The team’s 1,500-cow dairy has an average production of 90 pounds of milk and 6.75 pounds of solids per cow per day.

ke and Shelly Mayer, Slinger and their sons Devin and Dylon and daughter Cassandra are proud of their family farm heritage and have preserved their farm for future generations.

Industry Person of the Year

Shelly Mayer, Slinger, Wis., executive director of Professional Dairy Producers (PDPW), co-owner of Mayer Farm, Folks Song Farm and Mayer Farms Beef is synonymous with dairy industry leadership in Wisconsin.

A dairy farmer, direct-sale beef producer and agri-tourism host, Mayer also heads up PDPW. Through this organization, she has been on the leading edge of animal welfare, defining the founding parts of what is now the FARM program, maintaining customers’ confidence in the dairy industry, and providing dairy producers with resources to proactively manage challenges.

Mayer’s commitment to the dairy industry was on full display in 2018 when she helped lead the team responsible for the creation of the $7.8 million Dairy Innovation Hub, a research institution in Wisconsin focused on cutting-edge dairy research.

International Person of the Year

Mark Comfort, Cardinal, Ontario, Canada, Udder Comfort, Comfort Holsteins and Comfort Tunis.

Co-founder and co-owner of Udder Comfort, Mark Comfort from Cardinal, Ontario, Canada has been helping dairy producers around the globe improve animal care with his naturally based products since 1998.

His testimonial driven marketing spotlights individual success stories centered around Udder Comfort from World Dairy Expo Supreme Champion exhibitors to commercial dairy producers in 21 countries.

In the 1980s, Comfort played an integral role in establishing cross-border relationships between Canada and the United States through his company Transfer Genetics, which became TransCanada Select Sires and was sold to Select Sires in 2000.

Comfort remains active as a dairy cattle breeder through Comfort Holsteins and has bred a #1 sire in Germany and Japan. He and his wife Bev are also sheep breeders with Comfort Tunis.