BRATTLEBORO — John M. Meyer, CEO and executive secretary of Holstein Association USA, Inc. in Brattleboro, is being presented with National Dairy Shrine’s highest recognition, the Guest of Honor award. This annual award recognizes a contemporary dairy leader for outstanding accomplishments and contributions to the dairy industry.
Meyer was born and raised in Fort Atkinson, Wis. Today he resides in Brattleboro with his wife Vicki.
Meyer’s late father, Eugene C. Meyer, managing editor of Hoard’s Dairyman, achieved the Dairy Shrine Guest of Honor award in 1986. The Meyers are the first father and son in the history of Dairy Shrine to have won Guest of Honor and were the first to serve as Dairy Shrine presidents, Eugene in 1981 and John in 2004.
John Meyer has held leadership roles with breed associations for the last 25 years, first with the Brown Swiss Cattle Breeders Association and now Holstein Association USA (HAUSA). At both organizations, he leveraged his business acumen and people skills to create significant financial turnarounds, while introducing new programs and being a strong advocate of breed associations and other dairy organizations working together for the benefit of all dairy producers.
As nominator Steven Larson, retired managing editor of Hoard’s Dairyman, said, “To each position John has held, he brought business savvy, a penchant for hiring and motivating good people, a spirit of industry cooperation, and, above all, dedication to improving the lives and livelihoods of his organization’s members and others in the dairy industry.”
Meyer was appointed CEO/executive secretary of Holstein Association (HAUSA), the world’s largest dairy breed organization, in 2001. At that time, the organization had lost money on operations for 13 consecutive years. In just two years under Meyer’s leadership, the association went from continual losses to a profit on operations and has remained financially sound ever since. In Meyer’s second year, HAUSA launched Holstein Complete, a program which bundles registrations, classification, production records, genetic reports, pedigrees, and membership into one package.
Under Meyer’s direction in 2004, HAUSA acquired AgriTech Analytics, a dairy records processing center in Visalia, California. Also in 2004, HAUSA and National DHIA announced a cooperative agreement to begin initial implementation of premise and animal identification using the Association’s National Farm Animal Identification and Records (FAIR) program. In 2006, Meyer worked with other dairy organizations to form IDairy, a coalition designed to bring segments of the dairy industry together and move forward on animal identification. In 2014, under Meyer’s purview, HAUSA and Zoetis introduced Enlight, an online management tool to help Holstein producers more efficiently manage herd genetics.
With Meyer at the helm, HAUSA successfully completed agreements with the Brown Swiss, Guernsey, Milking Shorthorn and Red & White dairy cattle associations for HAUSA to provide breed registry and genetic services, and developed a partnership with the American Guernsey Association for HAUSA to classify that breed’s animals.
Over the years, Meyer has lent his talents to several industry boards and community organizations. He has been president of the National Pedigreed Livestock Council; chairman of the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding; a board member on the National Mastitis Council; member of the Animal ID Task Force of the National Institute for Animal Agriculture; a councilor for the World Holstein Friesian Federation; and a member of World Dairy Expo’s Dairy Cattle Committee. In 2010, he received the National Pedigreed Livestock Council’s “Continuous Service” Award.
Locally, Meyer served nine years on the Brattleboro Memorial Hospital Board of Directors, including terms as vice president and secretary, and was a member of the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors for three years.
Meyer will be presented with the Guest of Honor award at National Dairy Shrine’s Awards Banquet on Sept. 30 in Madison, Wis. His portrait will then be displayed in National Dairy Shrine’s Dairy Hall of Fame and Museum in Fort Atkinson, Wis.