Globe Trekkers

August 6, 2013 09:13 PM

Getting to the planet’s premier dairy show can pose quite the challenge

yoshi nakamura

Japan’s Yoshi Nakamura says having the chance to visit with other dairy farmers is the most valuable part of Expo.

Center of the dairy universe? No doubt about it. This year’s World Dairy Expo theme fits the event like a glove.

No wonder people like Yoshi Nakamura go to such great lengths to travel to Expo. Nakamura, farm manager at Abel Farms, a mostly commercial 1,400-cow dairy just outside of Tokyo, endured a 121⁄2-hour flight covering nearly 9,000 miles to make her first Expo visit in 2011.

Last year, she took to the skies again and made a return trip to Expo. "I couldn’t wait to get back here," Nakamura says. "It is such a great show. We don’t have anything like this in Japan."

Valuable resources. During her three days at the show last year, Nakamura took advantage of the many scheduled events and programs, including the dairy cattle breed shows, Expo Seminars and Virtual Farm Tours. She also left plenty of room in her schedule to browse through the exhibits in Expo’s Trade Show.

"It is almost unbelievable. There are so many companies represented here. If you need more information about something connected to the dairy business, you should be able to find it here," she says.

"This is not just a national show. It’s an international show, as well."

Last year, Nakamura made it a point to seek out feed and nutrition companies for production information. "Finding good-quality hay is always a challenge for us in Japan," Nakamura says. "We have to rely on importers and trading companies for good-quality forage, and it can be very expensive.

"At Expo, I had the chance to talk to many people from different feed companies and get some ideas about how we might be able to do a better job of making our rations more efficient," she adds.

Nakamura believes that having the chance to connect with other dairy farmers from all around the world in informal conversations may be the most valuable part of the Expo experience.

"And while you are doing that, you think about your own farm, about what you are doing well and what you might be doing better," she explains. "When you leave the show, you have lots of new ideas to take home with you. It gives you a lot of energy."

jd leonard 1

J.D. Leonard, owner of Leo Agriculture, a feed mixer manufacturing company, comes to Expo to reach customers from the U.S., Asia and the Middle East.

Expansion beyond borders. Commercial exhibitor J.D. Leonard doesn’t have to travel very far to get to Expo. His company, Leo Agriculture, a manufacturer of horizontal and vertical feed mixers, is based in Monroe, Wis. Distance from Monroe to Madison is about 43 miles.

Even so, Leonard has plenty of empathy for anyone who has to endure the rigors of long distance travel to get to the show. Over the years, he logged countless air miles traveling back and forth between Wisconsin and a Leo Agriculture plant in South Africa.

Leonard’s father, Nico, founded Leo Agriculture in South Africa in the late 1980s. "He was a dairy farmer," Leonard explains. "He wanted to buy a feed mixer. But when he started looking at what was available on the market, he couldn’t find one that he really liked.

"He had a degree from the University of Pretoria in agricultural engineering, so he built his own. Then, one of neighbors asked if we could build something similar for him. And things just kind of took off from there."

Over the next two decades, the company grew steadily. It now employs 20 people in the South Africa plant and last year launched the new Monroe facility with eight employees. The company has sold more than 700 mixers to farms in South Africa, eastern Europe and the U.S.

Last year was Leo Agriculture’s first year of exhibiting at Expo. "It offers the kind of exposure we are seeking," Leonard says. "The big thing for us is that this is not just a national show. It’s an international show, as well.

"That’s important to us because we’re trying to build our market in North America, South America, Asia and the Middle East," he says. "Here, we can reach dairy producers from all of those areas in just one place."

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