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Lager starts new career with Extension

By Renae B. Vander Schaaf
agripen@live.com

Date Modified: 12/27/2012 8:35 AM

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ORANGE CITY, Iowa — Kevin Lager started his new career with Extension Nov. 1 when he began his job as a dairy specialist.

Lager, age 29, was raised on a northwest Kansas dairy farm.

Lager graduated from Kansas State University with a bachelor's degree in agriculture and earned a master's degree in animal science focusing on dairy nutrition.

Since 2009, Lager has served as an extension associate for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

He is enthusiastic about helping dairy producers in western Iowa and in the entire Interstate 29 corridor.

"The dairy industry has a strong presence here and growing," said Lager. "It was a good opportunity for me to go where I can be of assistance to producers."

Lager has thus far focused on meeting producers on their farms and getting to know their expectations and needs.

Western Iowa has a third of the state's dairy herds and produces 40 percent of Iowa's milk. Twenty-three counties are in Lager's territory, as far east as Kossuth and Pocahontas and south into Audubon and Monona.

Lager is interested in developing focus groups that include producers, veterinarians and support industry representatives. One of his responsibilities is to get the newest research and techniques out to producers and then see how best to incorporate them into their farming operations.

Profitability is a big challenge in the dairy industry. Milk prices are better than they have been, said Lager, but feed costs are also high. While dairy producers need to be creative with their rations, they can't sacrifice if it will hurt later.

He appreciates the legacy Chris Mondak, the former dairy specialist left behind and said that he has big shoes to fill. Mondak was instrumental in beginning the Western Iowa Dairy Alliance.

"WIDA is an excellent organization," said Lager. "The members have a common idea of working together to produce a safe and healthy product."

Two big events are planned next year. Lager is organizing a northwest Iowa Dairy Day for Feb. 19-20. Locations and topics are currently being finalized. The 8th Annual I-29 Dairy Conference will be February 27 & 28th at the Best Western Ramkota in Sioux Falls, SD.

Lager, his wife, Melanie, and their three sons live in LeMars.