A learning experience like none other

Executive growers and producers head to WinField United Ultimate Field Trip

Land O

When you think about the word “field trip,” you may imagine trips to the zoo or grade school adventures. But there is another type of field trip tailored specifically for growers, members and producers associated with Land O’Lakes: The WinField United Ultimate Field Trip.

It’s a gathering of our largest growers, salespeople and dairy producers.

It’s a rewards trip for selling or purchasing qualifying WinField United Emerald Xtra Paks or for purchasing Milk Paks in executive bundles. If you’re interested in learning more about how to qualify for the Ultimate Field Trip through vended or proprietary products bundle sales or purchases, contact John Blackford.

The eighth annual Ultimate Field Trip took place in January in Cancún, Mexico. The 5-day event was filled with concerts, dinners and lots of networking opportunities for the almost 1,000 attendees.

But it isn’t just a vacation to a tropical location in the middle of winter, it’s also a learning experience and a chance to gain key business insights across the industry.

Coming together

One of the biggest appeals of the Ultimate Field Trip is the chance to meet other cooperative and dairy members from across the U.S.

“We have farmers come from Texas, Idaho, California, the East Coast, and they can all learn from each other,” says John Blackford, Marketing Director at WinField United. “What’s hard to replicate about the Ultimate Field Trip is that networking component, to gain insights from other growers across the U.S.”

That networking component was one of the most exciting parts to Larry Dufek, a Land O’Lakes dairy producer from Wisconsin and owner of Dairyland Farms LLC. Larry had been to the Ultimate Field Trip before, but one thing he didn’t expect this time was to be able to meet some of our executive leaders firsthand.

“My family and I were fortunate enough to sit down for dinner at the same table as Chris Policinski, the CEO of Land O’Lakes,” says Larry. “My wife and I just appreciated his forward-thinking commitments to new science and technology and planning for the future of the co-op.”

The first day consisted of a dinner and reception. January 10 through January 12 was broken down into a general session and breakout sessions throughout the days. And then of course, there were different meals, excursions, relaxation time outside and a concert or two.

The first panel, bright and early on January 10 gave everyone a chance to hear from the engaging speakers that Land O’Lakes had brought out for the day. The session opened with Policinski, Mike Vande Logt, EVP and COO of WinField United, and Kevin Eye, VP, agronomy & product development at WinField United.

Crops + dairy

And even though the Ultimate Field Trip has been typically for Winfield Emerald Xtra Pak growers, Winfield United and Land O’Lakes Member Relations have been working together to make this field trip special for some of our dairy producers as well.

“Now that some of the farmers who qualify for the Paks and Ultimate Field Trip are dairy members, we are trying to make some of the programming more aligned for themwith breakouts on dairy practices or on alfalfa,” says John.

It’s about creating programming and topics that really cover everything that farmersfrom growers to dairy producers - may want to learn about. Alfalfa covers that gap because it’s a crop used by both growers and by our dairy producers.

“One interesting thing to me was learning about the HarvXtra alfalfa products,” says Larry. “They’re more digestible for animals to get more nutrients out of the alfalfa, so it’s actually healthier for them.”

Some of the other panels programmed this past year included a Women in Agriculture panel and Succession Planning one.

Succession planning was important to Larry and his wife, as they are hoping their son and daughter will take over the family business someday. And, coincidentally, this was the first year their son and daughter came along to the Ultimate Field Trip.

“They had a breakout session on how to pass on a farm to the next generation,” says Larry. “That was a great session for my family because it was about making sure that as we think about passing on this dairy operation, that we position ourselves to make that transition easier.”

Beyond a field trip

The next WinField Ultimate Field trip will take place in Miami Beach, Florida, in early January of 2018.

The location always seems to be top-notch, but it’s evident that our agriculture members, dairy members and growers don’t only attend for the good weather. Although the sunshine probably doesn’t hurt.

“I’m glad that my son and daughter were able to come along to the Ultimate Field Trip this year because it’s helped them realize that there are opportunities in the business,” says Larry. “It’s nice to see the excitement and passion as they start to understand their leadership.”