MMPA hosts the cooperative’s 100th Annual Meeting, celebrates anniversary

Lansing, MICH.—The Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) today hosted its 100th Annual State Delegate Meeting, welcoming Governor Rick Snyder to launch the meeting in the morning. The governor commended MMPA on reaching one century of serving Michigan dairy farmers.

“Michigan’s food and agriculture industry is one of our state’s largest, contributing $101.2 billion annually to our state’s economy,” Snyder said. “The dairy industry plays a critical role in this success, and I thank all of Michigan’s dedicated dairy farmers and leaders for their contributions to making Michigan grow stronger.”

Snyder is a supporter of Michigan agriculture and has traveled around the globe to tell the story of Michigan’s food and agriculture products. The governor declared March “Michigan Food and Agriculture Month,” thanking farmers and noting the valued role of the agriculture sector to the state’s economy. He joined around 500 attendees which included agriculture industry stakeholders and MMPA members, employees and customers at the association’s annual meeting.

“Our goal is ‘to market our members’ milk to the greatest advantage possible’ and we must meet the challenge of making that happen in today’s complex world,” Ken Nobis, dairy farmer and president of MMPA said in his address today.

“We know that by working together, we are stronger than the sum of the parts, a reality that has not changed over time. We started with a firm foundation, we adapted as the world changed and I think we are well prepared for the next 100 years.”

MMPA was founded on May 23, 1916 at Michigan State University’s predecessor, the Michigan Agricultural College when 400 dairy farmers met at the college to establish a reliable market for their milk. Their foundation developed over 100 years into the cooperative it is today.

The cooperative recognized its anniversary today at the meeting, with plans for other celebrations throughout 2016 including publications and events. A notable item of celebration is MMPA’s release of a history book titled, Stronger. Together. Celebrating 100 Years of the Michigan Milk Producers Association.

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

UDIM to provide transportation, education on dairy nutrition to those impacted by water crisis

FLINT, Mich.—The Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA), The Kroger Co. of Michigan and the United Dairy Industry of Michigan (UDIM) today delivered over 12,000 gallons of milk to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan for distribution to families impacted by the Flint water crisis.

The action takes place on National Ag Day—a day to celebrate the abundance provided by U.S. agriculture—as the dairy farmers of MMPA share their product with those in need. The donation offers additional support to Flint families in continuation of a donation of milk by MMPA and Kroger completed in January.

“We are proud to make an additional contribution to the Flint community as it continues to recover from the water crisis. MMPA’s nearly 2,000 dairy farmers produce a wholesome, nutritious product able to protect those grappling with lead poisoning,” Ken Nobis, president of the MMPA said. “Our members were thrilled to hear how their cooperative was helping Flint with our donation in January and often asked how we could do more to help. I’m happy to announce today we are making an additional donation of 12,000 gallons of milk.”

Foods rich in calcium, iron, and vitamin C, including calcium-rich dairy products, can help protect children and families from the harmful effects of lead poisoning.

“Overall good nutrition is important to families who are impacted by the effects of lead contamination,” explained Jeff Dwyer, interim director of Michigan State University Extension, which is a member of the Pediatric Public Health Initiative. “Our health and nutrition team has been vigilant in demonstrating the need for good nutrition during this public health crisis. Making sure that nutritious foods, such as milk, are available to the residents of Flint is key to recovery. We are proud that our partners in agriculture, including MMPA, are helping in that recovery.”

The donated milk was produced by members of MMPA, a dairy farmer-owned cooperative based in Novi, Michigan. The Kroger Co. of Michigan led processing of the milk and packaging into gallon jugs.

The Kroger Co. of Michigan is pleased to be able to continue supporting the people of Flint with this donation of calcium-rich milk, and continues to work with our partners to raise funds and provide service to those impacted by this situation,” Ken McClure, Customer Communication Manager for the Kroger Co. of Michigan said.

Through the support of a grant from UDIM, The Food Bank of Eastern Michigan will distribute the milk to their network of partner agencies in the coming days, ensuring that it reaches families in need who are impacted by the Flint water crisis.

“On behalf of Michigan dairy farm families, UDIM is proud to provide a grant to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan to help defray the cost of transportation and distribution, while educating consumers on the role of milk as part of a healthy diet,” added Sharon Toth, CEO of UDIM.

About Michigan Milk Producers Association:
Michigan Milk Producers Association, established in 1916, is a member owned and operated dairy cooperative serving approximately 2,000 dairy farmers in Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio. Each year, MMPA’s dairy farm families produce 4.5 billion pounds of milk for families in Michigan, the U.S. and the world. For more information about Michigan Milk Producers Association, visit our website or call 248-474-6672.

About The Kroger Co. of Michigan:
The Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR) is one of the world’s largest grocery retailers, with fiscal 2014 sales of $108.5 billion. The Kroger Co. Family of Stores spans many states with store formats that include grocery and multi-department stores, discount, convenience stores and jewelry stores. We operate under nearly two dozen banners, all of which share the same belief in building strong local ties and brand loyalty with our customers.

About the United Dairy Industry of Michigan:
The United Dairy Industry of Michigan is the umbrella organization for the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council of Michigan. These non-profit organizations provide dairy product promotion and nutrition education service on behalf of funding members.

About the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan:
Serving local families in need since 1981, the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan has grown to provide over 25 million pounds of food each year through more than 415 partner agencies in 22 counties. Partner agencies consist of local soup kitchens, homeless shelters and food pantries who strive to feed more than 300,000 people who struggle with hunger throughout eastern Michigan. For more information, visit www.fbem.org

About the Pediatric Public Health Initiative:
The Pediatric Public Health Initiative is a joint venture between Michigan State University and Hurley Children’s Hospital to address the Flint community’s population-wide lead exposure and help all Flint children grow up healthy and strong. The initiative brings together experts in pediatrics, child development, psychology, epidemiology, nutrition, toxicology, geography and education. Partners include MSU Extension, the Genesee County Health Department and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Supported by the MSU College of Human Medicine Division of Public Health in downtown Flint, the initiative is led by Mona HannaAttisha MD, MPH, FAAP, Director, Pediatric Residency at Hurley Children’s Hospital and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at MSU College of Human Medicine. For more information, visit humanmedicine.msu.edu/PPHI.

NOVI, Mich.—Michigan Milk Producers Association recently paid $1.6 million in cash patronage refunds to its dairy farmer members. This cash allocation represents 25 percent of the $6 million net earnings generated by the cooperative in fiscal year 2015.

“The nearly $6 million in patronage refunds and equity retirements we’ve recently returned to our member-owners speak to the financial viability of MMPA,” Joe Diglio, MMPA general manager said. “Our cooperative has served Michigan dairy farmers for an entire century—through all the ups and downs of the industry—due to our high-quality milk supply, responsible financial management and competitive member value return.”

The cash patronage returned includes 100 percent of the farm supply earnings and 25 percent of the milk marketing earnings. All members who marketed milk through MMPA for fiscal year 2015 received a portion of the $1.6 million.

MMPA members received other cash payments in April 2015 of $3.6 million through retirement of the cooperative’s 2006 equities. With the current payment of $1.6 million, cash payments in the last 10 months total over $5.2 million.

Cash patronage funds and equity allocations are based on the amount of milk each individual member farm marketed and on the supplies purchased through the cooperative during the year in which the earnings were achieved. Under the current board policy, the non-cash balance of the equity allocation will be revolved back to the members in future years.

Michigan Milk Producers Association is a member owned and operated dairy cooperative serving approximately 2,000 dairy farmers in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin.

NOVI, Mich.—MMPA members were awarded half of all 2015 National Dairy Quality Platinum Awards, with three of the six platinum winners belonging to MMPA farms. In total, 12 MMPA members were among 36 nationally recognized farms in the annual National Dairy Quality Award program. In addition to the three platinum winners, four of the gold awards and five of the silver awards were earned by MMPA members.

“Every day on their farms, our member-owners do their best to produce the highest quality milk possible. We are proud to see their accomplishments recognized on a national level,” Joe Diglio, MMPA General Manager said. “We are the 10th largest dairy cooperative in the United States, yet our members captured half of the platinum awards and over 30 percent of the total National Dairy Quality Awards this year. This achievement demonstrates the superior quality of our members’ milk and each farm’s dedication and commitment to excellence.”

MMPA offers a portfolio of member services to help members produce the highest quality milk possible. Christy Dinsmoore, MMPA Northeast Area supervisor and mastitis management specialist, explains, “From nationally recognized Milker Training Schools to on-farm equipment evaluation and individual mastitis management programs, MMPA works closely with members to achieve high quality milk.”

MMPA also offers a quality premium incentive for its members producing higher quality milk. This past year, MMPA paid $16.3 million in quality premiums to its dairy farmer members.

The winners were selected from a pool of over 140 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 Winners:

  • Jeremy Beebe, Whittemore
  • David and Karen Vander Zanden, Casnovia
  • Brent, Nancy, Tyler and Ben Wilson, Carson City

Gold Winners:

  • Michael and Andrew Hogan, Muir
  • Brad and Debbie Kartes, West Branch
  • Larry, Therese, Brent and Emily Simon, Westphalia
  • Duane, Laurie, Ken and Anna Vanpolen, Marion

Silver Winners:

  • Charles, Susan, Albert and Perter Anscheutz, Twas City
  • Randy and Cindy Dragt, Howard City
  • Jacob and Elaine Jahfetson, Baraga
  • Mark and Robert Rau, West Branch
  • Dough, Jacob and Andrew Wirth, Evart

Food Bank of Eastern Michigan to distribute calcium-rich milk to those impacted by water crisis

FLINT, Mich.—The Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) and The Kroger Co. of Michigan, in conjunction with the Pediatric Public Health Initiative, today delivered 12,000 gallons of milk to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan for distribution to families impacted by the Flint water crisis. Foods rich in calcium, iron, and vitamin C, including calcium-rich dairy products, can help protect children and families from the harmful effects of lead poisoning.

“This milk donation, on behalf of MMPA’s nearly 2,000 dairy farm families, is simply the right thing to do to help Flint families in a tragic situation,” said Ken Nobis, president of the Michigan Milk Producers Association. “I appreciate all those who came together to make this effort possible, especially The Kroger Co. of Michigan, and I’m proud of our dairy farm families who produced the milk here in Flint today. We appreciate the opportunity to work with the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan to be sure that families in need have access to milk for their children, and this is clearly a time when milk can make a difference.”

“Today’s donation of nutrient-rich milk represents an important shift in the type of aid the affected residents need at this time, and moving forward as long-term monitoring and healthcare options are established,” said Ken McClure, Customer Communication Manager for the Kroger Co. of Michigan. “Kroger thanks our customers, associates, and partners for their generosity thus far, and encourages them to stay with us as we shift focus toward additional efforts to provide nutrient-rich foods, as well as funding.”

The donated milk was produced by members of MMPA, a dairy farmer-owned cooperative based in Novi, MI. The Kroger Co. of Michigan led processing of the milk and packaging into gallon jugs, and Quickway Carriers stepped up and provided the transportation of the milk to Flint. Nobis also recognized Dr. Jeff Dwyer, Interim Director, Michigan State University Extension for providing leadership and planning support for the milk donation project.

“We were blown away by the generosity of Michigan’s dairy farmers and Kroger,” Dwyer said. “All it took was a mention of the how calcium plays a key role in blocking lead absorption, and they were immediately on board with not only donating milk to Flint families, but looking for long-term, sustainable solutions to raising the level of nutritious options available there.”

The Food Bank of Eastern Michigan will distribute the milk to their network of partner agencies in the coming days, ensuring that it reaches families in need who are impacted by the Flint water crisis.

“Food Banks throughout Michigan have received long standing support from both the Michigan Milk Producers Association and the Kroger Co. of Michigan, said William E. Kerr, president of the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. “With the crisis that Flint is facing today, this generous donation of milk will provide a much needed source of nutrition for our children and we are happy to get it into the hands of our partner agencies for distribution to local families.”

About The Kroger Co. of Michigan:

The Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR) is one of the world’s largest grocery retailers, with fiscal 2014 sales of $108.5 billion. The Kroger Co. Family of Stores spans many states with store formats that include grocery and multi-department stores, discount, convenience stores and jewelry stores. We operate under nearly two dozen banners, all of which share the same belief in building strong local ties and brand loyalty with our customers.

About Michigan Milk Producers Association:

Michigan Milk Producers Association, established in 1916, is a member owned and operated dairy cooperative serving approximately 2,000 dairy farmers in Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio. Each year, MMPA’s dairy farm families produce over half a billion gallons of milk for families in Michigan, the U.S. and the world. For more information about Michigan Milk Producers Association, visit our website or call 248-474-6672.

About the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan:

Serving local families in need since 1981, the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan has grown to provide over 25 million pounds of food each year through more than 415 partner agencies in 22 counties. Partner agencies consist of local soup kitchens, homeless shelters and food pantries who strive to feed more than 300,000 people who struggle with hunger throughout eastern Michigan. For more information, visit www.fbem.org

About the Pediatric Public Health Initiative:

The Pediatric Public Health Initiative is a joint venture between Michigan State University and Hurley Children’s Hospital to address the Flint community’s population-wide lead exposure and help all Flint children grow up healthy and strong. The initiative brings together experts in pediatrics, child development, psychology, epidemiology, nutrition, toxicology, geography and education. Partners include MSU Extension, the Genesee County Health Department and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Supported by the MSU College of Human Medicine Division of Public Health in downtown Flint, the initiative is led by Mona HannaAttisha MD, MPH, FAAP, Director, Pediatric Residency at Hurley Children’s Hospital and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at MSU College of Human Medicine. For more information, visit humanmedicine.msu.edu/PPHI.

Leaders’ Conference 2015

Kicking off 2015-2016 Local Meetings, the 2015 Leaders’ Conference brought together MMPA leaders from all facets of the cooperative to the Michigan State University Kellogg Center in East Lansing on November 23.

In addition to presentations by MMPA General Manager Joe Diglio and President Ken Nobis, MMPA welcomed Joel Mergler from Select Sires, Kelly Millenbah from the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) and Bill Creal from Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Members listened and asked questions about dairy market conditions, MSU CANR initiatives, water quality issues and the global dairy industry.

Nobis first addressed the group of leaders, providing a positive outlook after a challenging year. “Our cooperative and the dairy industry are still in a good position and the future is still positive. Consumers demand a high quality protein source and dairy fits that need beautifully,” Nobis said.

His presentation also included updates on the impact of the global dairy industry, programs related to MMPA’s involvement in the Agricultural Leaders of Michigan and how the Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has assisted marketing members’ milk.

In his overview of MMPA operations and current market conditions, Diglio presented to members a year in review snapshot of the activities and changes. “In 2015, we saw massive market volatility and the market was very competitive when seeking new customers. Despite the distressed price, the assets you’ve invested in—our processing plants—are performing very well and we continue to pursue new opportunities for the future,” Diglio explained to the conference attendees.

Diglio also highlighted MMPA accomplishments over the last fiscal year, including attaining Level 3 Safe Quality Foods (SQF) Certification in the two processing plants, realizing a net savings of $6 million and paying out $24.4 million in producer incentive premiums to members. Diglio also commended members for producing milk with historic low levels of somatic cell counts, leading customers to covet MMPA’s high quality milk.

Mergler, the Vice President International Development for Select Sires, brought his expertise in international market development to share his insight on global dairy markets to MMPA leaders. Mergler strives to assist global customers breed better dairy cows, especially in countries with a growing middle class. “We are breeding for the global population,” Mergler said.

Yet he noted many countries are unable to meet their domestic demand for demand for dairy and U.S. producers are at a distinct advantage.  “You are no longer just a milk producer in Michigan, you need to have a global perspective and understand the world dairy market,” Mergler relayed.

2015 Outstanding Young Dairy Cooperators (OYDC) Shawn and Beth VanDrie lead the luncheon program, which included honoring the MMPA MSU Scholarship recipients. MMPA awarded 10 scholarships to the children and employees of MMPA members attending the MSU Institute of Agricultural Technology. The VanDries also introduced their fellow 2015 Top Ten OYDCs and raffled off two free registrations for the 2016 Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference.

The couple welcomed CANR Associate Dean Millenbah during the luncheon, who provided updates on CANR, MSU Extension, AgBioResearch and the CANR dean search. Incumbent CANR Dean Fred Poston retired in December and Millenbah announced Douglas Buhler will begin serving as interim dean on Jan. 1 until a successor is named.

In the afternoon, Creal provided insights on water quality issues through the lens of DEQ, including the algae bloom in Lake Erie. Following his presentation, Nobis and Diglio returned to the stage, opening up the floor for questions and comments from members.

The conference offered to members a forum to hear from MMPA management and learn industry perspectives as a lead into the following months of local and district meetings and the 100th Annual State Delegate Meeting.

COOPERSVILLE, Mich.—The Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) and Continental Dairy Facilities, LLC hosted 57 food safety professionals from around North America at a dairy plant food safety workshop on October 13-14 in Coopersville, Michigan.

The workshop—designed by the International Dairy Foods Association and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy— emphasizes the importance of strengthening manufacturing practices in all dairy processing facilities to diminish food safety risk and protect the reputation of the dairy industry. The joint sponsorship of the workshop training showcased the theme of collaboration among dairy food processors emphasized during the event.

“We believe food safety is not a trade secret and we openly share our best practices for the good of the dairy industry. This food safety workshop is the right forum for companies like MMPA to share our expertise and to build cooperation among industry leaders,” MMPA General Manager Joe Diglio stated. “It takes a collaborative effort from everyone along the food chain to provide safe, quality food product to our customers and consumers. The commitment to food safety will only continue to grow going forward.”

“From our standpoint, quality starts with our producers’ high quality milk and continues into our plant. We have been committed to food safety from the beginning. In our industry, it’s all about working together, especially when developing food safety,” Steve Cooper, Chief Operating Officer and General Manager of Continental Dairy Facilities also said.

Industry experts taught the participants procedures related to achieving and maintaining superior food safety standards in their processing plant. The training—one of over 20 workshops held nationwide—involved handson activities related to food safety in dairy plants, with a special emphasis on dry powder. By combining the expertise of food safety professionals from dairy cooperatives and manufacturers, plant employees in attendance learned techniques to improve plant standards and foster a culture of food safety at their companies. MMPA Director of Quality Amandeep Dhillon and Continental Dairy Facilities Director of Food Safety Ronald Thompson were among the team of trainers facilitating the workshop.

MMPA—established in 1916—is a member owned and controlled dairy cooperative and dairy ingredient processor serving approximately 2,000 dairy farmers in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana. MMPA currently operates two dairy processing plants in Michigan.

Continental Dairy Facilities, LLC is a Michigan dairy processing plant in partnership with Select Milk Producers, a cooperative made up of dairy farmers in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Texas and New Mexico.

NOVI, Mich.— The Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) was recently awarded top honors from the World Dairy Expo Championship Dairy Product Contest, winning six titles in three categories: salted butter, unsalted butter, and flavored butter.

MMPA’s processing plant in Constantine, Michigan swept the unsalted butter category, winning first, second and third place. Constantine also captured second place in the salted butter competition. The Ovid, Michigan plant produced the second and third place entries in this year’s flavored butter competition. MMPA has competed in the nationwide contest for five years.

“The combination of our members’ exceptional quality milk with a dedication to excellence from our plant employees’ has once again been recognized at the World Dairy Expo,” MMPA General Manager Joe Diglio stated. “MMPA received awards for the butter produced in both our manufacturing facilities, an honor that solidifies the superior quality of our products.”

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 71 product classes including cheese, butter, fluid milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, ice cream, sour cream, sherbet, cultured milk, sour cream dips, whipping cream, dried whey and creative/innovative products from throughout the United States.

A contest auction of all first place entries took place during the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin on Sept. 29. 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.

MMPA operates two Michigan manufacturing plants in Constantine and Ovid. In addition to butter, MMPA’s 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. After achieving Level 2 Safe Quality Foods (SQF) Certification in 2014, MMPA recently attained Level 3 SQF Certification—the highest level possible—at both manufacturing plants in July 2015.

MMPA, established in 1916, is a member owned and operated dairy cooperative serving approximately 2,000 dairy farmers in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin.

NOVI, Mich.—Shawn and Beth VanDrie of Lake City were selected as the state winning 2015 Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) Outstanding Young Dairy Cooperators (OYDC).

As the state winning cooperators, Shawn and Beth will represent MMPA at various industry and association activities. Darren and Regina Coffey of Allegan 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.

Shawn and Beth farm with her father and brother on their family farm, Rudvan Family Farms. The farm operates 1,350 acres and milks 290 cows. Beth is a graduate of Michigan State University’s dairy management program, active in her local community and enjoys educating others about the dairy industry through tours of their farm and presentations. Shawn is also employed outside the farm as a welder. The VanDries are in the midst of an expansion plan and just completed phase one with a new 240 cow stall barn. The couple is a member of MMPA’s Evart Local in District 5.

The VanDries were one of 10 cooperators invited to the annual OYDC Conference held August 13-14. The VanDries were selected to participate in the program earlier this year by fellow dairy farmers in their local and the MMPA State Nominating Committee.

“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.

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 65 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 Ten MMPA OYDCs will be officially recognized at MMPA’s 100th Annual Meeting to be held March 24, 2016 in Lansing.

2015 Top Ten Outstanding Young Cooperators (in alphabetical order):

  • Jesse and Tessa Chase – Hastings, Michigan
  • Darren and Regina Coffey – Allegan, Michigan
  • Adam and Kayla Lewis – Allen, Michigan
  • Brentt and Michelle Lucas – Posen, Michigan
  • Reuben Nelkie West Branch, Michigan
  • Craig and Karen Palosaari – Chassel, Michigan
  • Nick Scheurer and Jared Scheurer – Mason, Michigan
  • Ryan Schumacher and Katie Wood – Munger, Michigan
  • Shawn and Beth VanDrie – Lake City, Michigan
  • Ryan and Laura Yoder – Shipshewana, Indiana

MMPA, established in 1916, is a member-owned and operated cooperative serving approximately 2,000 dairy farmers throughout Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana.

NOVI, MI—The Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA), a regional dairy marketing cooperative and dairy ingredient processor, announced today that it has been awarded SQF Level 3 certification by the Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI), a globally trusted, recognized and accepted food safety and quality program. The cooperative received “excellent” ratings at both processing facilities, the highest ranking awarded by SQFI.

“MMPA is committed to quality: quality milk and quality products. It took cooperation and dedication from everyone within the system to achieve this highest level of SQF certification and showcase our product quality,” Joe Diglio, MMPA general manager said. “SQF certification grants us the ability to compete effectively in the global dairy marketplace and builds new opportunities for the future.”

Last summer, MMPA’s Constantine and Ovid manufacturing plants successfully obtained Level 2 SQF Certification after over a year streamlining processes, updating facilities, reorganizing traffic patterns and evaluating food safety at every step of the production process. Thousands of pages of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plans and standard operating procedures were created to train employees and prepare for the rigorous auditing process. The past year was spent focusing on the additional requirements to achieve Level 3 SQF Certification.

SQF is a Global Food Safety Institute (GFSI) benchmark recognized by retailers around the world as a meticulous, credible food safety management system. Many national retailers and grocery store chains require their suppliers have SQF Level 2 certification, with a growing number looking for Level 3 SQF Certification.

“Level 3 SQF Certification distinctly sets MMPA apart and receiving this accreditation shows that we are committed to food safety and quality,” MMPA Director of Quality Amandeep Dhillon said. “Our dedicated staff worked tirelessly to make this prestigious goal a reality. This achievement demonstrates our commitment to excellence and will provide our customers with an even higher quality product.”

MMPA is a member owned and controlled dairy cooperative and dairy ingredient processor serving approximately 2,000 dairy farmers in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana.

LANSING, Mich. – The Food Bank Council of Michigan (FBCM) announced today Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) has donated approximately 22,700 gallons of milk to its statewide hunger-relief efforts.

The donation was announced this morning at a special press event hosted on the farm of MMPA dairy farmers Mark and Fred Halbert in Battle Creek. The milk will be divided among the state’s regional food banks which serve all 83 Michigan counties. Currently over 20 percent of Michigan children are considered food insecure. The donation will help improve nutrition for children who struggle to have enough food to grow healthy minds and bodies.

“Our dairy farmer owners are happy to make this donation to the children, seniors and families struggling with hunger in our local communities,” MMPA President and dairy farmer Ken Nobis said. “We’ve been a Michigan company for nearly 100 years, and we’re proud to continue our cooperative’s tradition of giving back. What better way to serve those struggling with hunger than the healthy, natural, nutrient powerhouse that is milk?”

In total, MMPA donated 200,000 pounds of milk which was processed at cost by Prairie Farms Dairy Inc. The resulting 22,700 gallons of 2 percent white milk will offer nine essential nutrients, including 8 grams of high-quality protein per serving and three of the nutrients most likely to be missing in the American diet – calcium, vitamin D and potassium, to Michiganders in need.

Milk is one of the most requested, yet under-provided items at local donation centers. Prior to this donation, the average food bank was only able to provide the equivalent of less than one gallon of milk per person per year.

“This donation comes at a time of great need,” said Dr. Phillip Knight, executive director of Food Bank Council of Michigan. “During summer vacation, thousands of Michigan students are no longer able to rely on the meal they received at school. Thanks to MMPA and Prairie Farms Dairy Inc., food banks throughout the state will be able to provide milk to children and families in need.”

About the Food Bank Council of Michigan

Founded in 1984, the Food Bank Council of Michigan (FBCM) provides statewide leadership to food banks in their efforts to alleviate hunger. FBCM works with its seven regional food banks and over 3,000 hunger relief agencies, private companies, farmers, state and federal officials and other allies to make sure Michiganders do not go without food. For more information about the Food Bank Council of Michigan, visit www.fbcmich.org or call 517-485-1202.

About Michigan Milk Producers Association

Michigan Milk Producers Association, established in 1916, is a member owned and operated dairy cooperative serving approximately 2,000 dairy farmers in Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio. Each year, MMPA’s dairy farm families produce over half a billion gallons of milk for families in Michigan, the U.S. and the world. For more information about Michigan Milk Producers Association, visit www.mimilk.com or call 248-474-6672.

NOVI, Mich.–Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) member Nobis Dairy Farms was announced on May 7, 2015 as one of seven U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award recipients at a special ceremony in Washington, D.C.

“We were honored to receive this award and showcase the practical ways many dairy farmers are taking great care of the land, animals and resources they manage. We do our best to produce good, safe food in a way that’s environmentally, socially and economically responsible. We are happy to share our story with consumers and other farmers,” Nobis Dairy Farms co-owner Larry Nobis said.

The award program recognizes outstanding dairy farms, businesses and partnerships for practices that promote the health and well-being of consumers, communities, cows, employees, the planet and business.

Based in St. Johns, Michigan, Nobis Dairy Farms earned national attention for its sustainability efforts, including erosion prevention, field testing for efficient nutrient management and cow comfort and health improvements. The farm has adjusted its waste management system to maximize nutrient management and sand recyclability while decreasing the fuel and labor needed.

“The goal on our farm has always been about continuous improvement in all aspects of our operation,” MMPA President and Nobis Dairy Farms co-owner Ken Nobis said. “Little did we know that our goal would fit so naturally with today’s concept of a sustainable business model. We are proud to lead a new generation of farmers who are willing to tell the world about the many beneficial practices they utilize every day on their farms.”

The fourth annual U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards recognize and honor outstanding dairy farms, businesses and partnerships for socially responsible, economically viable and environmentally sound practices. These practices, large and small, are steps that add up to promote the health and well-being of consumers, communities, cows, employees, the planet and business.

An independent panel of judges — which included experts working with and through the dairy industry — also assessed the potential for adoption by others, demonstrated learning, innovation, improvement and scalability.

The Michigan Milk Producers Association is a milk marketing cooperative serving approximately 2,000 dairy farmers throughout Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin.