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Attendees embraced opportunities for a viable future

  • Cornell Cooperative Extension
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Nearly 400 dairy producers and industry professionals from across the Northeast gathered in East Syracuse, NY last week for two intense days of learning, collaboration, industry thought-leadership, and a few laughs. The conference featured insights about the challenges and opportunities facing the dairy industry, shared innovative technologies and strategies for success, and created time to connect with peers. Attendees represented dairy farms, industry advisors and partners, suppliers, consultants, and university and extension professionals. The conference is a three-decade partnership between Cornell CALS PRO-DAIRY and the Northeast Dairy Producers Association (NEDPA).

“We had a great group of speakers who provided excellent talks on key topics for our dairy producers and allied industry professionals. There was great energy among the attendees as they engaged with speakers and networked with each other,” said Tom Overton, Cornell CALS PRO-DAIRY Director. 

Conference sessions supported the theme of “Embracing Opportunities for a Viable Future”. Topics focused on putting people first, with personal growth and leadership skill development, strategies to increase employee engagement, and research-based practices that support safe, engaged, and productive workforces. Speakers emphasized the importance of vision and leadership, teamwork and building and maintaining relationships, and moving beyond your comfort zone to re-energize your business and improve performance. Perspective was offered on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and integrate technologies in a Farm of the Future. A favorite highlight of the conference is connecting with like-minded leaders in the industry to share ideas and experiences.

“Spending the past two days with NY dairy industry leaders was energizing as we discussed future opportunities,” said Tonya Van Slyke, NEDPA Executive Vice President of Industry Relations. “While challenges for our farms exist, especially around the regulatory climate, we must continue to come together, share vision, and focus on the current research and research needed. Being together reminds us about the importance of communicating our collective commitment to being part of the solution in New York and beyond to providing food security, continuing to care for our environment, and being part of the solution as our state works toward aggressive goals on climate initiatives.” 

Jason Karszes, PRO-DAIRY farm business specialist, was presented the Friend of NEDPA award at the conference. This award recognizes an extraordinary industry partner whose work has positively impacted New York’s dairy industry. 

The Dick Popp Memorial Leadership Award was presented to the family of Dennis Eldred in his memory. This award is given to an individual in the Northeast dairy industry who demonstrates a passion and vision for the dairy industry. Eldred was a progressive Cayuga County dairyman who passed in April 2023.

Four students from Cornell University received awards from the Richard Popp Scholarship Fund

  • Danielle Herrick, Bliss, New York — an interdisciplinary studies major, with a concentration in agricultural sciences, environmental sciences and pre-law. Herrick plans to attend Vermont Law School, concentrating in environmental law with the hopes of becoming an agricultural lawyer.
  • Lainey Koval, Stillwater, New York — an agricultural sciences major, with a concentration in business management, and a minor in animal science. Koval plans to work in the field of agricultural finance with hopes of returning to the family dairy farm in the future.
  • Lucas Walley, Walton, New York — an interdisciplinary studies major, with a concentration in dairy management. Walley plans to enter the industry in dairy management.
  • Sophia Woodis, Dewittville, New York — an environment and sustainability major, with a concentration in sustainable agriculture, and a minor in animal science. Woodis wants to work in dairy farm human resource management and eventually return to the family dairy farm in Western New York.

This fund was established by friends, families, and colleagues of Dick Popp and honors senior undergraduate students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. 

PRO-DAIRY and NEDPA thank the industry partners whose sponsorship helps make this event possible. Pre-conference and keynote sponsors were ABS Global, Agricultural Consulting Services, Axiota Animal Health, Dairy One Cooperative, Inc., Ever.Ag, Farm Credit East, ACA, Finger Lakes Dairy Services, GEA Farm Technologies, Novus International and STgenetics. Additional sponsors are listed on the conference website.

The next Northeast Dairy Management Conference will be hosted in March 2026. To join the mailing list and for more information, visit PRO-DAIRY is a nationally recognized extension and applied research leader serving dairy farms for more than 35 years.

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