By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com
Round two of the Canadian Dairy XPO (CDX) drew large crowds of dairy farmers from across the country and abroad to Stratford, Ont., on Wednesday.
The snowy weather didn’t keep farmers away from the one-of-a-kind dairy focused show. Pickup trucks filled the parking lot, with lines waiting to get inside. Over the course of the two-day event, CDX organizers are expecting about 15,000 visitors.
CDX partnered with Global Dairy Farmers, a Holland-based organization that sent some members to attend the show. Last year, there were about 11 countries represented, and organizers say they hope to continue to grow their international presence at the event.
“The industry is vibrant right now,” said Jordon Underhill, general manager and founder of CDX. “We found a great location right here in Stratford,” he said.
Stratford and Perth County area is home to the largest number of dairy farms in Ontario. “We took the show to the heart of commercial dairy country,” said Underhill. Total cash agricultural receipts for the county tops $550 million, with dairy producers leading the way at more than $15 million.
Underhill said the event will continue be held in Stratford in the future. “My vision is that it’s going to stay in Stratford,” he said. CDX plans to work with the city of Stratford to look into ways to expand the complex and parking space area.
After about 15 years of traveling to the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin, Underhill decided it was time that Canada have a show of its own. “I always said to myself why don’t we have something like this in Canada.”
The show was a resounding success in its first year, and Underhill says the event has met expectations and probably exceeded it. “Now it’s just a matter of holding onto the reigns and trying to keep it very focused,” he explained.
Exhibitors had to prequalify to set up at the show. Last year, there were about 220 exhibitors, while this year there were closer to 350. Underhill said organizers had to turn away almost 70 applicants who didn’t meet the criteria to get in.
The event attracted farmers from all walks of life, big and small, young and old. But perhaps what was most encouraging was the number of young producers in attendance including, Franke Hosper, age 33, from Clinton, Ont.
Hosper milks about 300 cows in Huron County, and says that he attends numerous farm shows throughout the year, but CDX is by far the best one. “The event is so special because it is all dairy related,” he explains. This is Hosper’s second time attending CDX, and he says that he is already planning on coming back again next year.
There are about 13,000 dairy farms in the country, and the industry contributes about $6 billion annually to the Canadian economy.