Rod Johnson, longtime executive director of the Nebraska State Dairy Association and Nebraska division of Midwest Dairy, is retiring from his post this spring. After a legacy of hard work on behalf of dairy farmers, Johnson hands over the reins to a new guy.
Kris Bousquet from South Sioux City, Neb., became executive director in March. Bousquet was making the rounds in February at the Nebraska State Dairy Convention in Columbus, meeting dairy farmers from around the state and introducing himself to those in the dairy industry.
“I grew up on my family dairy at South Sioux City where my dad, Rick, and my uncle Robert are partners on our diversified operation,” Bousquet says.
“You could almost say that I was raised in the milking parlor,” he adds. “Along with my brother Tyler, we milked and did chores on weeknights and weekends during the school year, and during the summer, we did that every day.”
Along with serving as an aircraft mechanic with the Nebraska Air National Guard and serving the country in U.S. Air Force operations around the world, Bousquet also found time to obtain his bachelor’s degree in diversified agriculture from the University of Nebraska. He is now pursuing a master’s degree in animal welfare and behavior from UNL.
“I hope I can be a source of knowledge to consumers of dairy products on the science behind animal handling and comfort,” Bousquet says. “I started my civilian career in 2016, working for Dairy Farmers of America as a field representative in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa. During my time with DFA, I was able to build relationships with farmers, state regulatory officials and other industry representatives in which I am lucky enough to keep working with in my new position with NSDA.”
Bousquet knows that Nebraska dairy farmers are a tight-knit group.
“As I continue to form new relationships with dairy farmers in the state, I can’t help but to feel at home with these great people, because it just feels like family,” he says. “As the consumer relationship to production agriculture is getting more distant, I hope to help people realize the great benefits of dairy products in their lives. I also hope to ensure that the dairy farmer’s voice is heard in our local and state government.”
He says that Nebraska dairy farmers have some advantages.
“Nebraska dairy farmers are vitally located in the middle of the country, which makes it easy to transport products north and south along Interstate 29, and east and west along Interstate 80,” he says. “This geographical location gives the processors of dairy a great logistical advantage as opposed to other surrounding states.”
Nebraska farmers also have an advantage of access to water and feed availability, with plenty of corn, soy and hay, making it easier to control input costs.
Bousquet married his wife, Michelle, last June. The couple makes their home in Lincoln, Neb. He says he is honored in his new role.
“Agriculture is our No. 1 industry, and dairy needs to continue to be at the table, discussing the changes and legislation that affect them,” Bousquet says. “I know how and why dairy farmers work as hard as they do, because I’ve walked in their shoes. Going forward, I will not forget where I come from and the interests of our dairy farmers.”
Email Bousquet at krisbousquet@NebraskaMilk.org.