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Dairy XPO drawing Dairy producers from around the world
April 6, 2017

Thousands streamed into Stratford on Wednesday for the start of the two-day Canadian Dairy XPO, the annual one-stop-shop for dairy producers that draws guests from around the world.

The show usually draws close to 15,000 guests, and CDX founder Jordan Underhill suspects the numbers will be up this year. He also noticed a lot of younger farmers – or potential future farmers – in the crowd.

“They work hard, but it’s also profitable. If it wasn’t profitable, the youth wouldn’t be here. They’d go to another industry,” he said.

New products are helping to foster an important shift in the life of dairy producers.

“Because of the innovation in the robotics category now – you can get a robot that milks your cows, feeds the cows, moves the manure for you – young people are looking for a different way of life. They want to farm, but they don’t necessarily want that 4:30 in the morning to midnight commitment. They want to be able to go to their kids’ soccer games,” Underhill said.

Family was another theme of the Canadian Dairy XPO. Hundreds of little ones enjoyed the event alongside their parents or grandparents.

The Mulders, from Embro, were one of the families who visited Stratford.

Martyn Mulder said he tries to come to the Canadian Dairy XPO at least every two years. Sometimes that’s enough, especially since he’s also close to Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show in Woodstock.

The Mulders two daughters, Haley and Natlie, had a blast playing in the dairy-fied version of a sandbox – a tire filled with corn.

Their dad was more interested in the equipment.

“I saw a nice automated pre and post-dip sprayer for a rotary parlour,” he said.

Another young visitor from Embro, four-year-old Kiara Lupton, was emphatic when asked about her favourite part of the XPO.

“Balloons!” she said with a smile.

Guests young and old enjoyed the “swag” that comes with the show. Everything from jelly beans to t-shirts was on offer.

Novus, an animal nutrition company, had cow-shaped stress balls up for grabs – and they were a highlight for more than just kids.

“(They’re popular) with the young, and the not-so-young,” said JP Lincourt from Novus.

Underhill said it’s great to see a younger demographic at the show. He thinks many parents identify the value of real-life education like the XPO.

“What we see each year is the family unit increasing. Rather than having one person from the family or two, it’s the whole family. The kids are pulled out of school, there’s lots for them to learn here – including our own two kids,” said Underhill.

Older tweens and teens were hard at work helping to direct guests around more than 350 exhibits.

Logan DeGroot from Perth County 4-H and Amy Gras from the Oxford County group were part of the “Ask Me” team stationed at one of the exit doors. They’re volunteering at the show to help raise money for a 4-H trip to Saskatchewan this summer.

“It’s really cool,” said Gras, who lives on a chicken farm. “It’s good to learn about different farm equipment and learn what all the different companies have to offer.”

Encouraging that kind of knowledge, especially for those outside the agriculture industry, is always Candace Hill’s goal.

She’s the manager of Agriculture More Than Ever, a cross-Canada support and advocacy organization for the agriculture industry. Hill travelled to Stratford from Regina to help spread the word at the Dairy XPO.

“There’s so many people who feel that food comes from the grocery store. We, in agriculture, have a big job to do,” Hill said, noting that there are so many misconceptions about farming practices and the products produced on a Canadian farm.

“A lot of times it’s around the nutrition of food. Is it healthy and is it nutritious?,” she said. “People are concerned about what they feed their kids and families. What it comes down to is that farmers and all of us in the industry are consumers, too.”

The Ag More Than Ever booth encouraged guests at the XPO to take a photo for social media and sign up to be an “agvocate.” The goal is for those within the industry to start conversations – whether online or in person – to educate consumers about agriculture, Hill said.

“We’re coming together for the greater good of agriculture, so everyone can see it and believe it,” she said.

 

Source: Stratford Beacon Herald.com


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