Fall 2017

Working Life

Steve Larson and Corey Geiger with members of the herd at the Hoard’s Dairyman Farm. Photo by Nik Hawkins

With its unmistakable oversized format and bold red masthead, Hoard’s Dairyman is perhaps the most influential publication in the dairy industry today.

What began in 1885 as an insert in the Jefferson County Union weekly newspaper has grown into an indispensable print and digital resource for dairy farmers and their advisers in more than 60 countries around the world. Since its beginning, the publication has been linked to the University of Wisconsin’s agricultural endeavors through its founder, William Dempster Hoard, a UW regent and passionate supporter of the university’s College of Agriculture, which formed in 1889 when he was governor of the state.

It’s fitting, then, that for the last 20 years, CALS alumni have stood at the editorial helm of the magazine. Corey Geiger BS’95 (agricultural economics and dairy science) joined the Hoard’s staff in 1995 and took on the managing editor role in 2013. His predecessor, Steve Larson MS’70 (dairy science), served as managing editor for almost 15 years, beginning in 1998. Now retired, he still works as a consultant for the magazine and its fully functional dairy farm in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. Neither expected to venture into the realm of agricultural journalism, but they have both relished the opportunity to serve the dairy industry.

What makes Hoard’s Dairyman so influential and long-lasting?

Corey Geiger: At Hoard’s, we operate our own dairy farm, so we’re really a part of the industry, not just reporting on it, and there’s a big difference. On our editorial page we use words like “we,” “us,” and “our,” which isn’t necessarily taught in journalism classes. We’re living this every day. We need to know, as editors, what’s going on with cows — what are the trends, what are the issues that busy dairy farmers are facing every day, not only in the United States, but around the world.

Steve Larson: Part of our business model, or tradition, is to assume industry leadership positions. That adds to the credibility and the image of the magazine and the ability to know what’s going on and how to get things accomplished in the industry.

What role does Hoard’s Dairyman play in connecting UW–Madison and Wisconsin agriculture?

SL: This connection goes back generations. It started with the lead role W.D. Hoard played in converting Wisconsin from a faltering grain-producing region into America’s Dairyland and, later, his efforts to establish agricultural studies at the university.

Researchers and extension specialists from CALS and the School of Veterinary Medicine have made major contributions to the impact Hoard’s Dairyman has across Wisconsin as well as the U.S. and the world. Current and past editors have served in advisory roles at the university, and this has created mutually beneficial connections between our company, UW, and industry.

CG: There are more dairy businesses based in Wisconsin than anywhere in this country. It’s this flow of jobs that is vital to Wisconsin, and I think, together with UW, we help share with these businesses the great research that the university is doing. We actually partner in these conversations. Probably 60 percent of our stories are written by outside authors. We help put it in a really conversational form that is easy to read but delivers some very deep research at the same time. And that’s art to be able to do that.

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