LANSING, MICH. – For the fourth year in a row, the Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) has made a donation of fresh milk to the state’s food bank network.

MMPA is donating 150 gallons of milk a day for 2018. That amounts to 54,750 gallons of milk to Michigan area food banks this year. The donation is occurring primarily during the summer months when the need is the greatest The Food Bank Council of Michigan will ensure Michigan’s seven food banks serving all 83 counties in Michigan will receive this wholesome product.

MMPA is a farmer-owned cooperative, meaning the milk is a donation directly from the farmers. For four consecutive years, MMPA has worked with local farmers for their generous donation while increasing the milk donation.

“The Food Bank Council couldn’t be happier to receive this donation of milk year after year,” said Dr. Phillip Knight, FBCM Executive Director. “One in seven people in Michigan struggle with hunger, and we’re constantly working toward solutions. MMPA’s donation puts us one step closer in solving hunger and food insecurity in Michigan.”

The milk will be coming from some of the 1,100 farmers of MMPA. Michigan Dairy, operated by Kroger, is donating the processing and packaging of the milk, saving the food banks over $25,000.

“As a cooperative, MMPA is committed to serving local communities at its core. One way the dairy farmer owners of MMPA can support our neighbors in need is by providing food banks with nutrient-rich milk,” said Ken Nobis, dairy farmer and president of MMPA. “Therefore, we are proud to make a donation of milk to food banks across the state of Michigan this summer. With this donation and through our partnership with the Food Bank Council of Michigan over the last few years, we have now donated a total of 2.6 million servings of milk, reaching communities in every corner of the state.”

This abundant contribution provides milk, one of the most requested items at local distribution centers, to Michigan residents, families and children in need of this wholesome product.


About the Food Bank Council of Michigan

Founded in 1984, the Food Bank Council of Michigan was created to implement a unified strategy to address and alleviate hunger statewide. FBCM works with its regional food banks and over 3,000 hunger relief agencies, private companies, farmers, state and federal officials and other allies to make sure no Michigander goes without food. For more information about the Food Bank Council of Michigan, visit or call 517.485.1202.

About Michigan Milk Producers Association

Founded in 1916, the MMPA is a dairy farmer owned cooperative and dairy processor. MMPA serves approximately 1,700 dairy farm families in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin..MMPA markets approximately five billion pounds of milk annually from its dairy farmer members. For more information about the Michigan Milk Producers Association, visit or call 284.474.6672.

About The Kroger Co. of Michigan:

The Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR) is one of the world’s largest grocery retailers and the nation’s largest operator of traditional grocery stores.  Recognized by Forbes as the most generous company in America, Kroger supports hunger relief, breast cancer awareness, the military and their families, and more than 30,000 schools and grassroots organizations. Kroger contributes food and funds equal to 276 million meals a year through more than 100 Feeding America food bank partners.   Opened in 1967, Kroger Michigan Dairy has been serving Michigan for over 50 years.  Kroger Michigan Dairy currently receives over 40 million pounds of milk each month from MMPA.  For more information about Kroger Michigan Dairy please visit

Gilde AM
MMPA President Ken Nobis (left), Member Representative Deb Gingrich (second from left) and Northwest Area Supervisor Sarah Michalek (right) presented Aaryn and Nathan Gilde (center) of Lake City, Michigan, with the highest quality milk production award.

NOVI, Mich.—Gilde Farms LLC of Lake City, Michigan were named Michigan Milk Producers Association’s (MMPA) Top Quality Award Winners at MMPA’s annual meeting in Lansing on March 15, 2018. The Gildes were featured in the May issue of MMPA’s member publication, the Michigan Milk Messenger.

The Gilde family run a 220-cow dairy that obtained the highest quality records in 2017 among the nearly 1,100 farms belonging to MMPA. To qualify, a producer must meet MMPA’s quality premium requirements for an entire year.

“In order to meet MMPA quality premium levels each and every month of the year, everyone on the farm must be on board.  This level of commitment shows the pride the owners, managers and employees of Gilde Farms LLC have in the business and industry,” says Deb Gingrich, MMPA member representative.

Since 1990, MMPA has recognized the farm that produces the highest quality milk for the year. The Gilde Family makes cow comfort and closely monitoring animal health a priority to continue to produce high quality milk. They utilize technology such as video cameras in the barns and milk metering systems to better manage their resources and time to benefit the cows. They have always taken extreme personal pride in producing high quality milk.

Read more about the Gilde family in the Michigan Milk Messenger »

MMPA—established in 1916—is a member owned and operated dairy cooperative serving approximately 1,700 dairy farmers in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Gilde family
Gilde family

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!  The blaring alarm clocks jars the Gilde family awake to start the morning chores. Worn, soft clothes are slipped on quickly after fumbling around the floor, so the chores can begin on time. Hot, bitter coffee sweetened with a little dairy cream is gulped down as they trudge out to the barn with the smell of fresh morning air helping clear the sleep from their heads. The sight of a multigenerational family gathering in the barn to work together is the perfect example of an all-American image.

Established in 1978, Gilde Brothers Farm began when Randy and his brother Steve with their wives, started milking around 100 cows. Since then, Steve and his wife were bought out in 1991 as the next generation began to take ownership. Randy and Mary’s sons, Nathan and Nick, along with their families were officially brought into the business in 2011 under the name Gilde Farms LLC.

Named Top Quality Award winner at the 102nd Annual State Delegate Meeting, Gilde Farm LLC was unsurpassed by the nearly 50 percent of MMPA’s farms who received quality awards. While milking 220 cows and farming almost 1,100 acres of corn and alfalfa, this Lake City, Michigan farm maintained an average somatic cell count (SCC) of 47,167 cells per milliliter, pre-incubated (PI) bacteria count of 1,333 cells per milliliter and raw bacteria count of 1,083 cells per milliliter in the 2017 fiscal year.

Excellent quality takes dedication and consistency. It also takes hard work to achieve. Although it was a shock to the Gildes to receive the award, they shared some of their management style that helps maintain their low counts. For the Gildes, it is truly a family effort to achieve such high milk quality goals. Each family member and six part-time employees has a part to play in giving the cows the VIP treatment all day every day.

“Great quality and healthy cows is a standard we’ve come to expect from ourselves. We have received quality awards ever since we’ve been with MMPA,” said Mary. “Milk quality effects everything. It’s not just a premium on your milk check and it starts in the parlor.”

“There are two things we focus on for parlor management. We look at the milk filters after every shift for signs of inadequate udder prep and mastitis. Even though it is very low tech, it is the most effective way to monitor what happens in the parlor for us. I also watch flow rates and milking curves using the Afimilk system,” explained Nathan.

The Afimilk system is an electronic milk meter that gathers information about each animal, stores, and analyzes the data in reports. “These reports give farmers real-time information about their herd’s health and fertility, milk quality and productivity. It shows if the milking routine is being followed,” continued Nathan. “I have found it helps to have something to show employees the importance of following our udder prep procedure if something is off.”

The farm milks twice a day in a double six herringbone parlor using a strict milking procedure. As Nathan describes, they prep three cows at a time starting with dry wiping any loose debris, fore stripping to inspect the milk and pre-dipping in the first visit. They return to wipe the dip off and attach the milking unit within 60 to 90 seconds to capture the ideal milk letdown window. Hitting this letdown window helps minimize the time it takes to milk the cow and to get her back in the barn. After the milking machine is removed with automatic take-offs that are carefully calibrated to insure no overmilking occurs, each teat is post dipped with a barrier iodine dip before being released to go back to the freestall barn.

Mastitis protocols include DHI or dairy herd improvement testing every three months, utilizing the cow-side CMT (California mastitis test) as needed and selective treating following milk culture results. In 2010, the farm invested in the equipment and training to conduct on-farm milk culturing to better treat cases of mastitis. “The main reason for the investment was to prevent overtreatment of cows. It has changed the way we look at mastitis and has even changed our management style focusing more on prevention and animal housing to keep them cleaner rather than dealing with the infections after the fact,” explained Nathan.

The Gildes also have extra tank samples pulled twice a week to monitor bacteria counts closer and prevent problems before they occur. Quarterly, the milking equipment dealer does routine maintenance, checking the pulsators and vacuum levels to ensure proper working order and liners are changed every five weeks.

“Equipment maintenance was always a big emphasis from my dad,” Nathan explained. “He always told us ‘we need to have the best equipment we can, and it needs to be working well. We can do everything right, but if we aren’t milking the cows correctly, it doesn’t do us much good.’”

Part of doing everything right for the Gildes includes doing their best to put family first. Making sure there is a place for the next generation is important to them as it is for many farms throughout the countryside. Even though Nick and Nathan’s children are still in school, they play a part in the family business. Hard work ethics and the high standards set for the farm are instilled so going forward the tradition of high quality will continue.

“The Gildes are detail-orientated farmers who strive to produce the best quality milk possible,” shared Deb Gingrich, MMPA member representative. “They carefully manage their quality to ensure potential problems are addressed early and prevention is one of the forefront factors in their decision-making process. It
is wonderful to work with farms like Gilde Farm LLC who love what they are doing and take such pride in selling a high-quality product.”

In describing her sentiments toward dealing with elevated SCC and low milk prices, Mary simply said, “Never give up.”

“Times have been tough for us before and we buckled down, worked hard paying close attention to details and did our best to make it through. There is always something good about the present and looking forward to better times puts a little hope on the horizon,” continued Mary. “With farming, things don’t always go to plan, but if we want there to be something for the kids and grandkids, we need to work at it and move forward.”

As the sun sets at dusk over Gilde Farms LLC, the picturesque scene of calves bedded down in thick straw beds, cows comfortably getting a drink at the water fountain or eating at the feed bunk and the skid loader being parked for the night can be seen around the farm. Although the work of a dairy farmer is never complete, working with family is a tradition and a blessing at Gilde Farm LLC.

–Krista Schrock

This article was originally published in the May 2018 issue of the Michigan Milk Messenger

Leprino Foods to donate 4,300 pounds of Michigan-made cheese to food banks in conjunction with award

LANSING, Mich.—Underscoring the value of industry collaboration, the Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) today honored customer Leprino Foods Company with a Valued Partner award. The award was presented at the dairy farmer-owned cooperative’s annual meeting, which carried a theme of “Focus on Cooperation.”

During the award presentation, Leprino Foods announced a donation of 4,300 pounds of mozzarella string cheese to the Food Bank Council of Michigan. The donation is an effort to support the one out of every seven Michigan residents struggling with hunger.

MMPA and Leprino Foods began an agreement over 30 years ago that has enabled the success of two Leprino cheese plants in the state of Michigan. The plants in Allendale and Remus process a combined 3.5 million pounds of milk per day and support over 400 jobs.

“Through vision, MMPA and Leprino have remained steadfast ‘Partners in Progress’ through the years,” said President Ken Nobis, who presented the award with General Manager Joe Diglio on behalf of the cooperative.

The initial partnership, innovative for its time, brought Colorado-based Leprino Foods to Michigan in the late 1980s. Leprino is now the largest manufacturer of mozzarella cheese and supplies many of the world’s leading pizza companies.

Per capita consumption of mozzarella cheese has more than doubled in America in the past 30 years. Thanks to the growing dominance of pizza, Americans now eat almost 12 pounds of cheese per year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Leprino Food’s donated mozzarella cheese—produced locally in Remus, Michigan—will reach food banks in all 83 counties of Michigan after being distributed by the Food Bank Council of Michigan.

“Our business success is based on one key ingredient – milk. Michigan’s healthy milk shed and its dedicated dairy farmers make it an excellent location for us to produce the highest quality cheese and dairy ingredients for our customers and consumers throughout the world,” Leprino Foods Company President Mike Durkin said. “Our relationship with MMPA, and its dairy farmer members, has spanned three decades and we look forward to our continued partnership. We are honored to be acknowledged with this Valued Partner Award.”

“We are grateful for our mutually-beneficial relationship with Leprino Foods. Together, our quality milk and Leprino’s innovative technology creates value for the industry and MMPA dairy farmers. Our work with Leprino showcases the lasting power of collaboration,” Diglio added.

The announcements were made at MMPA’s 102nd Annual Meeting in Lansing, Michigan. Approximately 400 dairy farmer members and guests gathered at the meeting today to discuss the current dairy industry, recognize members, adopt policy resolutions and elect board members.


About Michigan Milk Producers Association:

The Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) is a dairy farmer owned cooperative founded in 1916. MMPA serves approximately 1,700 dairy farmers in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin, handling approximately 5 billion pounds of milk annually. MMPA operates two SQF Level 3 certified manufacturing plants in Michigan and a cheese plant in Indiana. Products made at MMPA’s plants include butter, non-fat dry milk, whole milk powder, cream and condensed skim milk.


About Leprino Foods Company: 

Leprino Foods Company, headquartered in Denver, Colo., is a global leader in the production of premium-quality cheese and dairy ingredients. Leprino Foods is the largest producer of mozzarella cheese in the world and a leading manufacturer of lactose, whey protein and sweet whey. For more information, please visit


MMPA President Ken Nobis (left) and General Manager Joe Diglio (right) presented the Valued Partner award to Leprino Food Company. Accepting the award from Leprino Foods were (center, L-R) Associate Director of Raw Dairy Ingredient Sales Melissa Bischoff, Vice President of Supply Chain Mark Benson, CEO Mike Durkin and Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs Mike Reidy.
The platinum award winning MMPA farm includes the team of (R to L): Jenn Buchner, Jeremy Werth, Paul Werth, Larry and Paulette Werth, Evan Beyer (behind Larry Paulette), Austin Malaney, Josh Jones, CJ Malaney and Ethan Buchinger. Photo credit: Corey Gieger, Hoard’s Dairyman.

Seventeen Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) member farms were today awarded National Dairy Quality Awards, making up over a third of the total winners. The MMPA members made up over one third of the  46 nationally recognized farms in the annual award program. One platinum award, seven gold awards and nine silver awards were earned by MMPA members.

MMPA’s large representation in the National Dairy Quality Awards underscores the hard work of the cooperative’s farms while competing against other well-performing farmers across the country. National Dairy Quality Award winners are recognized at the annual National Mastitis Council meeting held this week in Tuscon, Arizona.

“Congratulations to our member farms being recognized through the National Dairy Quality Awards program.  Attaining consistent milk quality at this level results from proactively doing the ‘right’ things for animal health and comfort day in and day out,” says Dean Letter, Director of Member Services.  “High milk quality and animal care results from a proactive commitment to do the right thing every time, every day.”

MMPA offers a portfolio of member services to help members produce the highest quality milk possible, with field representatives working closely with each member to achieve quality goals. MMPA also offers a quality premium incentive for its members producing higher quality milk. In 2017, MMPA paid out $17.7 million to members in quality premiums.

The winners were selected from a pool of applicants nationwide. The winning operations stood out for having produced high-quality milk consistently. Applications were evaluated for measures of quality, systems of monitoring udder health, milking routine, protocols for detection and treatment of clinical and subclinical cases of mastitis and strategies for overall herd health and welfare. MMPA winners were nominated by their member representatives.


Platinum Award

  • Larry and Paulette Werth, Jeremy Werth and Paul Werth, Alpena, Michigan

Gold Awards

  • Don Beattie, Holton, Michigan
  • Brad, Mark and Larry Crandall, Battle Creek, Michigan
  • Gordon Dick, McBain, Michigan
  • Brad and Debbie Kartes, West Branch, Michigan
  • Brent Simon, Westphalia, Michigan
  • Ken, Duane, Anna and Laurie VanPolen, Marion, Michigan
  • Douglas Warner, Charlevoix, Michigan

Silver Awards

  • Karl Bontrager, Wolcottville, Indiana
  • Michael Bosscher, McBain, Michigan
  • Norm and Mark Buning, Falmouth, Michigan
  • Harley and Marietta Lambright, LeRoy, Michigan
  • William Pirman, Skandia, Michigan
  • Jerry and Sharron Powers, Pentwater, Michigan
  • Mark and Bob Rau, West Branch, Michigan
  • Allen and Aaron Slater, Holton, Michigan
  • Ken and Carol Tebos, Falmouth, Michigan

Michigan Milk Producers Association, established in 1916, is a member-owned and controlled milk-marketing cooperative serving approximately 1,700 dairy farmers in Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio.


MSU scholarship students were honored at the MMPA Leaders’ Conference on Nov. 21. Back row, from left: Gerrit Baker, Casey Tebos, Adam Wiles and Nolan Wieber. Front row, from left: Hope McAlvey, Morgan Luoma, Cameron Cook and Jacob Arens.

As a long-time supporter of dairy education, the Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) annually sponsors scholarships for members, their children and employees enrolled at Michigan State University and Purdue University.

For the 2017-2018 academic year, MMPA awarded nine scholarships, totaling over $21,000. The scholarship recipients were honored and introduced to MMPA members at the annual Leaders’ Conference on Nov. 20 in East Lansing, Michigan.

The scholarship fund aims to assist young students pursuing a career in the dairy industry. Scholarships are awarded based on academics, involvement in the dairy industry and letters of recommendation.

“Encouraging young people to pursue careers in agriculture, specifically the dairy industry, is important to MMPA. We feel it is vital to invest every year to ensure a bright future for the dairy industry,” says Ken Nobis, MMPA president and dairy farmer from St. Johns, Michigan. “These scholarships help  students find careers within the dairy sector and inspire them to strengthen this industry.”

The MSU scholarships available are for students enrolled in the Dairy Management Program. According to the MSU Institute of Agricultural Technology, the program delivers innovative, educational programs that develop career-ready graduates through intensive, practical learning and skill enhancement. Students in the dairy management program, advised by Dr. Joe Domecq, undergo a two­year, hands-on training program for careers in the dairy industry. A key component of the program is the completion of an internship at a dairy farm different than the student’s home farm.

In addition to the MSU Scholarships, MMPA also awards one scholarship to a member or a child of a member who is a student at Purdue University College of Agriculture.

Scholarship applications for the 2018-2019 academic year are due Sept. 1. for the MSU scholarships. Purdue scholarship applications were due Jan. 1 for freshmen students and are due Feb. 1 for current students. In continuation of MMPA’s efforts to support youth development and education, MMPA is a supporter of the Michigan Dairy Ambassador Scholarship and Leadership program and the Michigan Dairy Memorial and Scholarship Foundation.


MSU Second-Year Scholarships

  • Cameron Cook, Pewamo, Michigan
  • Morgan Luoma, East Leroy, Michigan
  • Casey Tebos, Falmouth, Michigan

MSU Second-Year Employee Scholarship

  • Hope McAlvey, Carson City, Michigan 

MSU First-Year Scholarships

  • Jacob Arens, Westphalia, Michigan
  • Gerrit Baker, Bryon Center, Michigan
  • Adam Wiles, Middleton, Michigan

MSU First Year Employee Scholarship

  • Nolan Wieber, Fowler, Michigan

Purdue University Scholarship

  • Jason Perkins, LaGrange, Indiana

The Michigan Milk Producers Association–established in 1916–is a member-owned and operated milk marketing cooperative and dairy processor serving approximately 1,700 dairy farmers throughout Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana. In addition to a cheese plant in Indiana, MMPA operates two SQF Level 3 dairy ingredient plants in Michigan, producing butter, nonfat dry milk powder, condensed skim milk, cream and whole milk powder.

Randy Mooney (left), chairman of the National Milk Producers Federation, presented the Grand Champion Cheese award, the chairman’s trophy, to MMPA General Manager Joe Diglio (center) and President Ken Nobis (right) during the closing luncheon of the federation’s annual meeting in Anaheim, California on Nov. 1.

ANAHEIM, CA—Pepper-jack cheese produced under the Heritage Ridge Creamery brand at Michigan Milk Producers Association’s Middlebury, Indiana cheese plant was recently named Grand Champion Cheese. The award was presented by the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) last week at the federation’s annual meeting in California.

The annual contest includes cheese made by dairy cooperatives belonging to NMPF. A record 194 entries totaling 3,070 pounds of cheese products were submitted in the 2017 contest. Heritage Ridge pepper-jack placed first in the hot or spicy cheese category and then went on to win the overall best cheese prize. This is the first year MMPA has entered a product in the cheese contest.

“We are honored our product was recognized nationally, a testament to high quality milk from our farms and the craftsmanship of our cheesemakers,” said Jim Feeney, senior director of sales for the MMPA. “We strive to exceed our customers’ expectations everyday with the quality products in our portfolio.”

The Heritage Ridge Creamery brand markets cheese produced at the Middlebury, Indiana plant and sold in the on-site retail store. The cheese plant produces Colby cheese, a softer, milder flavored cheddar cheese, in addition to cheddar, pepper-jack, Amish Creamery cheese and other flavors.


Heritage Ridge Creamery is a brand of Middlebury Cheese Company, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the MMPA. The farmer-owned cooperative acquired the facility in 2016 and is currently reviewing options to increase capacity and expand product offerings.

The Michigan Milk Producers Association—established in 1916—is a member-owned and operated milk marketing cooperative and dairy processor serving approximately 1,700 dairy farmers throughout Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana. In addition to the cheese plant in Indiana, MMPA operates two SQF Level 3 dairy ingredient plants in Michigan, producing butter, nonfat dry milk powder, condensed skim milk, cream and whole milk powder.

MADISON, Wis. — Butter made in southwest Michigan by farmer-owned Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) was today awarded top honors from the World Dairy Expo Championship Dairy Product Contest.

First and third place awards were granted to unsalted butter made at MMPA’s dairy plant in Constantine, Michigan. MMPA has competed in the nationwide contest for seven years.

“Our recipe for excellence starts with our farmers’ high-quality milk along with the dedication of our plant team to produce award-winning butter,” MMPA General Manager Joe Diglio stated. “We are proud of these accomplishments, recognized once again at the World Dairy Expo.”

The World Dairy Expo Championship Dairy Product Contest is the only North American judging contest which encompasses all dairy products. The contest received over one thousand entries in 75 product classes including cheese, butter, fluid milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, ice cream, cultured milk and dried whey from throughout the United States.

A contest auction of all first-place entries will take place during the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin this evening. As a result of this contest, the Wisconsin Dairy Products Association (WDPA) annually funds two scholarships for students preparing for careers in the dairy industry. WDPA also funds a culinary arts scholarship and donates to the National Collegiate Judging Contest which trains college students the art of evaluating dairy products.

In addition to a cheese plant in Indiana, MMPA operates two SQF Level 3 dairy ingredient plants in Michigan. In addition to butter, MMPA’s dairy ingredient plants manufacture nonfat dry milk, condensed skim milk, cream and whole milk powder. MMPA sells its products to food manufacturers who make infant formulas, candy, ice cream, pudding, baked goods, cheese and yogurt.

The Michigan Milk Producers Association—established in 1916—is a member-owned and operated milk marketing cooperative and dairy processor serving approximately 1,700 dairy farmers throughout Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana.

Dairy Cooperative to Assume Ownership of Deutsch Käse Haus on Nov. 1

Novi, MICH.—The Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) today announced the purchase of the Guggisberg Deutsch Käse Haus in Middlebury, Indiana. The cheese plant acquisition diversifies MMPA’s dairy product portfolio which currently includes award-winning butter, powder and other fluid milk products.

“We are eager to continue to grow our footprint in the Great Lakes region and utilize the expertise at Deutsch Käse Haus to gain greater diversity of our product portfolio,” MMPA General Manager Joe Diglio said. “MMPA members have a proven track record of producing high quality milk and to be able to align with an award winning cheese plant located in close proximity to our Constantine plant provides great synergies in our milk marketing strategy.”

The Deutsch Käse Haus—translated from German as German Cheese House—was founded in 1979 to serve the needs of local Amish dairy farmers. Today, the plant processes around 400,000 pounds of milk per day and employs 55 people. MMPA plans to retain the current employee team following the ownership transition. The plant is currently owned by Guggisberg Cheese Company of Millersburg, Ohio.

“The Deutsch Käse Haus has established a valued and trusted legacy in Indiana. I am confident MMPA’s progressive leadership will carry on this legacy as we move forward, bringing mutual benefit to both Guggisberg Cheese Company and MMPA,” Richard Guggisberg, owner of Guggisberg Cheese Company. “MMPA has a strong membership base in northern Indiana which will allow Deutsch Käse Haus to continue providing high quality products under new ownership.”

The Deutsch Käse Haus produces award-winning cheese, internationally recognized at the World Dairy Expo, U.S. Cheese Makers Competition and World Cheese Makers Competition. The plant mainly produces Colby cheese, a softer, milder flavored cheddar cheese, in addition to Colby-jack, Monterey-jack, Cheddar, pepper-jack cheese and other flavors.

Following the acquisition, MMPA intends to continue manufacturing the current types of cheeses made at the plant. The investment positions MMPA to further explore expansion opportunities at the Middlebury plant location in the future.

Michigan Milk Producers Association, established in 1916, is a member-owned and controlled milk-marketing cooperative serving approximately 2,000 dairy farmers in Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio. MMPA owns milk processing plants in Ovid and Constantine, Michigan, and the cooperative handles over 5 billion pounds of milk annually.


NOVI, Mich.—Darrin and Barbara Siemen of Harbor Beach, Michigan, were selected as the state winning 2016 Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) Outstanding Young Dairy Cooperators (OYDC).

As the state winning cooperators, Darrin and Barbara will represent MMPA at various industry and association activities. David and Gretchen Tolan of Ossineke, Michigan, were selected as the runner-up cooperators. Selection of the OYDC is based on the applicant’s farming operations, farm-related and community activities and demonstrated leadership abilities.

“The OYDC program identifies outstanding young leaders in our organization and provides an opportunity for them to gain a greater understanding of milk marketing activities and MMPA,” says Ken Nobis, MMPA president.

Darrin and Barbara own Prime Land Farm, a dairy farm five miles west of Lake Huron in Michigan’s Thumb region. The farm operates 1,500 acres and milks 320 cows using an automated milking system, commonly known as robotic milkers. The couple is a member of MMPA’s Huron Local in District 8.

“Prime Land Farm is a progressive and diverse centennial family farm which strives to be profitable for the next generation, sustainable in all stewardship practices, and serve its community and agriculture at large,” the Siemens described.

The couple met while attending Michigan State University where Darrin obtained a degree in food industry management and agribusiness. Barbara graduated with a degree in English and later received a teaching certificate from Saginaw Valley State University. The Seimens are involved with MMPA at the local level, with Darrin serving as a local delegate and Barbara as a dairy communicator. They both also hold leadership positions on the Huron County Farm Bureau. Barbara runs a blog, The Chick Wire, a network of women that shares values, cultivates understanding and inspires without judgement.

The Siemens were one of 10 cooperators invited to the annual OYDC Conference held Aug. 18-19. The couple was selected to participate in the program earlier this year by fellow dairy farmers in their local and the MMPA State Nominating Committee.

The state OYDC Conference, held at MMPA headquarters in Novi, provides participants with information about milk marketing activities, cooperatives, milk testing procedures and other current events within the dairy industry. The program has been held annually the past 66 years. This year’s program featured the Top Ten OYDCs selected by the State Nominating Committee from a pool of applicants nominated by their local. All Top 10 MMPA OYDCs will be officially recognized at MMPA’s 101st Annual Meeting to be held March 23, 2017 in Lansing, Michigan.

2016 Top 10 Outstanding Young Cooperators (in alphabetical order):

  • Brady and Kellie Brown – District 8, Mid-Sanilac Local
  • Amanda Carey – District 5, Alma Local
  • Adam and Charlie Freis—District 4, U.P. West Central Local
  • Gary and Renee Hufnagel – District 6, Mid-Michigan Local
  • Samantha Mamarow-District 1, Saline-Ann Arbor Local
  • Daniel and Sarah Minnis – District 1, Ingham County Local
  • Nathan and Amy Pyle—District 3, West Michigan Local
  • Darrin and Barbara Siemen—District 8, Huron Local
  • Casey and Laura Sparks—District 3, Muskegon Local
  • David and Gretchen Tolan—District 4, Hillman Local

Michigan Milk Producers Association, established in 1916, is a member-owned and controlled milk-marketing cooperative serving approximately 2,000 dairy farmers in Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio.

Ovid, MICH.—The Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) today open the doors of its largest dairy processing plant in Ovid, Michigan for an open house. The event highlighted the value of the plant to MMPA for over half of the cooperative’s existence and continued celebrations of MMPA’s 100 year anniversary.

The dairy manufacturing plant—purchased by MMPA in 1957—operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, taking in approximately 5 million pounds of milk each day.

“Our plant in Ovid is a key component of reaching MMPA’s strategic goals. The quality products produced here from our members’ milk are nationally recognized and positively impact the local economy,” Ken Nobis, MMPA president said. “Today’s open house provides an opportunity for us to showcase the successes at our plant while celebrating our cooperative that is now a century-old.”

MMPA has invested over $96 million in the Ovid facility over the last ten years. The recent investments include a $62-million expansion, which has the capacity to process 60 percent more milk than before the expansion. According to a study completed by the MSU Product Center, the Ovid expansion project could have an economic impact of over $183 million to the state of Michigan. More recent additions include an expanded wastewater treatment system, new whole milk powder packaging system and a new butter churn.

Products made at the Ovid facility include condensed milk, dry milk powder, whole milk powder, buttermilk powder, liquid cream, condensed milk, skim milk, salted and unsalted butter. These products are used by MMPA customers in various end products such as salad dressing, ice cream, yogurt, infant formula, pudding, cheese, baked goods, frozen dinners, candy bars and other confections.

MMPA began recognizing its anniversary at its 100th Annual State Delegate Meeting in March, where it was announced MMPA would donate 100 gallons of milk per day for an entire year to the Food Bank Council of Michigan. MMPA released a history book and video series detailing 100 years of MMPA history and the evolution of the cooperative at the annual meeting. In May, MMPA hosted a Centennial Anniversary Celebration at Michigan State University on the same day and in the same building the cooperative was founded exactly 100 years prior. At the event, MMPA announced a $100,000 donation to be used toward animal agriculture research programs at the university.

Michigan Milk Producers Association, established in 1916, is a member-owned and controlled milk-marketing cooperative serving over 2,000 dairy farmers in Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio.

Three farmer-owned dairy cooperatives announced today that they have committed to exploring joint ownership and operation of a major cheese processing plant in the state of Michigan. The three cooperatives are Foremost Farms USA, Baraboo, Wisconsin; Dairy Farmers of America, Kansas City, Missouri, and Michigan Milk Producers Association, Novi, Michigan. All three have farmermembers located in the state.

This decision is driven by the growing milk supply in Michigan, the lack of available processing capacity within the region, market accessibility and transportation benefits.

“Michigan dairy producers own some of the most progressive and efficient dairy operations in the world, and they have positioned themselves to be a long-term supplier to domestic and global markets,” explained Michael Doyle, president & CEO, Foremost Farms USA. “Collectively, our respective organizations are extremely pleased we can come together to positively address this growing market.”

Greg Wickham, chief financial officer, Dairy Farmers of America, said, “Strategically, Michigan is well situated geographically to serve not only major U.S. markets, but also global markets. In addition to the quality milk supply in the region, it has a solid transportation infrastructure, one well served by major highways and various ports.”

“We are excited to potentially leverage the strengths and assets of our three cooperatives in order to accommodate the growing milk production in Michigan,” said Joe Diglio, general manager, Michigan Milk Producers Association. “Working collaboratively helps enhance our ability to better serve dairy producers in this region and align the marketing strengths of our organizations together.”

The plant is expected to process 6 million pounds of milk a day and make 220 million pounds of American-style cheese annually.

About Foremost Farms USA:
Foremost Farms USA, headquartered in Baraboo, Wis., is a farmerowned milk processing and marketing cooperative with about 1,500 members and annual sales of $1.5 billion. The nation’s eighth-largest cooperative and number 25 in annual sales among the Top 100 U.S. dairy processors, Foremost Farms focuses on the creation of tailored and innovative milk solutions that meet the needs of customers around the world.

About Dairy Farmers of America:
Dairy Farmers of America is a national dairy marketing cooperative that serves and is owned by nearly 14,000 members on nearly 8,000 farms in 48 states. DFA also is one of the country’s most diversified manufacturers of dairy products, food components and ingredients and is a leader in formulating and packaging shelf-stable dairy products.

About Michigan Milk Producers Association:
Michigan Milk Producers Association is a member owned and operated dairy cooperative serving approximately 2,000 dairy farmers in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin. MMPA owns milk processing plants in Ovid and Constantine Mich., and the cooperative handles over 5 billion pounds of milk annually.