Great Lakes Forage and Grazing Conference to feature Mike Rankin as keynote speaker

The Great Lakes Forage and Grazing Conference on March 5 in St. Johns, Michigan, will focus on uncertainty in producing forages in 2020.

Winter-injured alfalfa stand
2019 winter-injured alfalfa stand. Photo by Phil Kaatz, MSU Extension.

Forage production was greatly challenged in 2019 due to the weather conditions across the Midwest. Many producers were faced with fields that had reduced yields, winter-killed alfalfa stands and decreased quality in many areas of Michigan. The Great Lakes Forage and Grazing Conference on March 5, 2020, in St. Johns, Michigan, will address some of these issues. Mike Rankin, editor of the Hay & Forage Grower magazine, is the keynote speaker and his opening session, “Old dirt roads and new forage friends,” will highlight his travels within the U.S. and visits with farmers and ranchers.

Rankin has found that there are a multitude of ways to produce, utilize and market forage crops for livestock systems. In this presentation, we’ll take a road trip across the country and meet some of the more interesting and unique individuals from the past five years. Each has carved out a successful forage utilization path. His additional talk, “The state of the alfalfa address,” will discuss the future, trends, attributes and warts that currently exist with the “Queen of Forages.”

The conference will also feature the Michigan Forage Spokesperson Contest. This contest is a showcase of Michigan forage producers vying for the opportunity to represent Michigan at the 2021 American Forage and Grazing Conference held in Savannah, Georgia.

Additional sessions will include:

  • Recent weather trends and outlooks by Jeff Andresen, MSU agricultural climatologist
  • MSU forage research results by Kim Cassida, MSU forage specialist
  • A panel discussion on dealing with rough field conditions
  • How forage diversity affects grass-fed beef by Logan Thompson, MSU Lake City Research Station

The conference and forage tradeshow are open to all forage producers, farmers, graziers, custom forage harvesters, livestock owners of all types, veterans and forage enthusiasts. The event is a partnership between Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Forage Council and North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE).

The conference will be held at AgroLiquid Fertilizer, 3055 W. M-21, St. Johns, MI 48879. Registration is from 9 – 9:45 a.m. and the program ends at 4 p.m. The preferred method for registration is to register online and pay by credit card at: 2020 Great Lakes Forage and Grazing Conference.

The Michigan Forage Council will include, with paid registration for first time attending non-members, a one-year membership into the Michigan Forage Council. Membership benefits include forage magazines, newsletters and educational discounts for programs. The cost of the event during early enrollment is $45 for Michigan Forage Council members, $60 for non-Michigan Forage Council members and $20 for students. Refreshments and lunch are included with registration.

Early registration deadline is Sunday, March 1. All registrations after March 1 will be at the door. All registrations at the door will add $10. For those without internet or email who want to register, please contact Tina House at 810-667-0341.

For more information, contact Phil Kaatz at 810-667-0341 or, Kim Cassida at or Jerry Lindquist at 231-912-0103 or

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