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Several dairy farmers from throughout the Midwest will be featured at the Central Plains Dairy Expo which kicks off today at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The event, which runs through Mar. 29, is held annually to bring together dairy farmers from the top producing states in the Midwest to learn more about on-farm best practices, enhance their communications skills and collaborate to build a stronger dairy industry throughout the Central Plains region.

Second-generation dairy farmer Michael Johnson of Trailside Holsteins, Minn.; third-generation dairy farmers Melisa Konecky, of Beauty View Farms, Neb.; and Evan Metzger of Multi-Rose Jerseys, Iowa; and fourth-generation dairy farmer Darcy Steffes of Steffes Registered Holsteins of Ill., will be featured as part of a Dairy Champion video in which the four discuss the importance of sharing their farm stories through social media. Midwest Dairy chairman Allen Merrill will introduce the video as part of the VIP Welcome Reception that kicks off the Expo Mar. 27.

Konecky believes it is important to connect with consumers. “It’s one of my contributions, being able to tell my dairy farm’s story,” said Konecky. “You want to tell your story, there’s nobody else who can do that.”

Metzger and Johnson take pride in the legacy of their family farms and how it plays a significant role in the stories they share. “My dad learned from my grandpa, and I’m learning from my dad. That’s been helpful for my generation.” said Metzger. “And he’s learned from us, which is cool; it goes both ways.”

“I want to make my farm a better place for my kids,” said Johnson, who farms with his wife, Margaret. “We hope the next generation picks up right where we left off.”

“We are happy to be able to be able to showcase the passion these dairy farmers have for our product and our way of life,” says Olga Reuvekamp, of Hilltop Dairy, S.D., president of the Central Plains Dairy Expo. “They inspire us all.”

Additionally, during the welcome reception, the New Dairy Princess of South Dakota will be crowned.

Several other Midwest dairy farmers will be recognized for awards they received recently. Steve and Lisa Groetsch of Groetsch Dairy, Minn., were named the 2017 Minnesota Milk Producer of the Year. They started milking 30 years with 47 cows in a tie-stall parlor. Today, they have a herd of 260 cows and four robotic milkers, which have led to increased efficiency and cow comfort.

Brett Beavers and Bill Demerath, both of Nebraska, were awarded Co-Dairymen of the Year from the Nebraska State Dairy Association. The pair spent nearly four years researching and studying the robotic milking industry before a dealer was established in Nebraska, and they became the first two farms in the state to install milking robots.

Mark and Sara Wilcox of Iowa received the Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award. Mark and his wife, Sara, and youngest son, Joe, have a 70-head milking herd of registered Holsteins and a little over 800 acres of corn, soybeans, alfalfa and mixed pasture on their Century Farm.

Jerry Messer, N.D., received the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board’s Richard E. Lyng award for his distinguished service to dairy promotion. Messer has served on Midwest Dairy’s North Dakota Division Board, the North Dakota Dairy Promotion Commission, Midwest Dairy corporate board, United Dairy Industry Association board, Dairy Management Inc. board and National Dairy Council board.

Midwest Dairy will also host a trade show booth during the Expo, at which a variety of resources for dairy farmers will be available. The booth is located in Convention Center #32-33.

Midwest Dairy Association® represents 7,000 dairy farm families and works on their behalf to increase dairy sales, foster innovation and inspire consumer confidence in dairy products and practices. Midwest Dairy is funded by checkoff dollars from dairy farmers in a 10-state region, including Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma. For more information, visit MidwestDairy.com. Follow us on Twitter and find us on Facebook at Midwest Dairy.