The Australian Dairy Conference

Wollongong, NSW. Feb 23 – 25
PCO: Esther Price Promotions
AV/Sound: Derek Peterson, Totally Sound

I had not been to Wollongong before. I drove from Sydney airport and once I’d cleared the worst of Sydney’s traffic enjoyed the drive to the “gong”. What an impressive drive down that mountain into the city!

The pre-conference touring was just about done and dusted as  we gathered for the welcome  reception.  Program Committee Chair, James McKinnon, welcomed delegates and we then met Ian Halliday, the new CEO of Dairy Australia.

The conference partner was Dairy Australia and the Platinum Sponsors were Rabobank and Elanco,  both staunch supporters of Australian agriculture.

There was a strong international flavour to this event with speakers from China, Ireland and the USA. Mike Magan is a former Chair of Lakeland Dairy Cooperative Society in Ireland and an active dairy farmer who believes Ireland can quadruple its milk output in 25 years. Beijing based Su Hao (James) is a dairy entrepreneur involved in dairy and services to the industry and the rate of growth in the industry there is phenomenal as well as the potential for dairy product consumption..

Craig and Penny Gallpen from the Riverina area of NSW are your typical hard-working, optimistic Aussie farmers who milk three times and day and provide employment to almost the entire neighbourhood! Penny was on crutches having had a knee reconstruction but it didn’t stop her from climbing those stairs to the lectern!

Joining us via videoconference from a very cold and snowy Minnesota was Dr. Andy Thomas, the “udder doctor” whose later session had people queued behind the microphones in the aisle to ask questions. Joining us in person from the US was hoof health specialist Dr. Karl Burgi. of the Dairyland Hoof Care Institute who told us that “comfortable cows are productive cows” I thought Karl possessed some of the qualities of St. Francis of Assisi!

Also featuring was US-based animal nutritionist Dr. Rick Lundquist, who appeared at the conference courtesy of Agrig8 and also shared a concurrent with Argentinian nutritionist Dr. Fernando Bargo from Elanco (looks a bit like Antonio Banderas, but that’s just me)

Two features of the conference were the DAFF Young Scientist Communication Awards and the “Moo-in Transfer”, a variation of the Gruen Transfer where high schools from dairying states “pitched” a 45-sec video on why dairy offered great career prospects. Mount Compass Area high school from South Australia took out that one and a young man called Santiago won the Young Scientist award.

Overall, a great conference and very enjoyable. Well done to James McKinnon, Esther and Donna from Esther Price Promotions and everyone else involved.

And no, Derek Peterson, I’m not putting the photo you took of me in a green wig drawing the Incitec-Pivot prize on this blog!!

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