Leaders gather at Michigan State University exactly 100 years following the cooperative’s founding, announce $100,000 donation

EAST LANSING, Mich.—The Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) today recognized its 100th Anniversary at the Justin Morrill Hall of Agriculture at Michigan State University (MSU). The cooperative was founded in that same building 100 years prior on May 23, 1916. At the event, MMPA announced the contribution of $100,000 toward animal agriculture research programs at MSU.

“With great pride MMPA marks this occasion and we celebrate the day when the innovative dairy leaders of 1916 began our cooperative,” said Ken Nobis, MMPA president and dairy farmer. “Today, we acknowledge our humble beginnings and the vast challenges and opportunities that have shaped our organization to this day. Tomorrow, we will continue to work on behalf of our dairy farmer memberowners and support the agriculture and dairy industry.”

In recognition of MMPA’s 100th anniversary, Nobis announced MMPA’s planned donation of $100,000 to MSU. The contribution is designed to work in conjunction with the efforts of the Michigan Alliance for Animal Agriculture. The funding will support research for the advancement of the animal agriculture industry, in priority areas such as bovine tuberculosis, sustainability and workforce development.

“One hundred years after its first meeting on this campus, MMPA continues strong in its unwavering support of MSU and its research. We are grateful to this organization and for the partnership we’ve formed over this past century,” said George Smith, associate director and interim dean of MSU AgBioResearch. “MMPA leadership has been instrumental in advocating for additional funding for animal agriculture research and its potential economic return for the State of Michigan. We look forward to strengthening our partnership with MMPA and enhancing the Michigan dairy industry over the next 100 years.”

The anniversary celebration called attention to MMPA’s strong relationship with MSU from its founding date to present-day partnerships and initiatives.

“On behalf of the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), we wish MMPA congratulations on celebrating its centennial,” said Doug Buhler, MSU CANR interim associate dean. “It is through partnerships between industry and education that we can ensure a well-versed workforce and stable and safe food supply for Michigan’s residents.”

Among other MMPA leaders and agriculture industry partners, Senator Joe Hune, Chairperson of the Michigan Senate Agriculture Committee, was in attendance to congratulate the cooperative on its anniversary and present the association with a legislative proclamation acknowledging MMPA’s role within the state.

“Congratulations to MMPA on celebrating 100 years of their organization,” Hune said. “MMPA has been a vital asset to the dairy market in our state and I wish them another successful 100 years of protecting and promoting the welfare of our dairy farmers and agriculture industry.”

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 detailing 100 years of MMPA history and the evolution of the cooperative at the annual meeting. Continuing the celebration, an open house at MMPA’s milk processing plant in Ovid is slated for this summer.

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.

NOVI, Mich.— Former dairy industry leader and Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) President Elwood Kirkpatrick, of Kinde, Michigan passed away on May 16 at the age of 79. Kirkpatrick served the dairy industry for over 28 years in various leadership positions, including 26 years as president of Michigan Milk Producers Association. Throughout his presidency, Kirkpatrick served the cooperative and dairy industry on both state and national levels through his involvement in a number of agriculture and dairy related organizations.

Kirkpatrick was elected to serve on the MMPA board of directors in 1979 where his aptitude in finance quickly earned him the respect of fellow board members who elected him as president of MMPA in 1981. He continued to serve as MMPA president until his retirement from the board in March 2007.

“The dairy industry lost a great leader. Elwood Kirkpatrick made a tremendous impact on the dairy industry on both the state and national level,” MMPA President Ken Nobis said. “He played an important role in shaping today’s dairy industry, and his vision will live on.”

In Michigan, Kirkpatrick served as chair of the Michigan Dairy Industry Committee, was a member of the United Dairy Industry of Michigan board of directors and had served on the Michigan Agriculture Commission.

On the national level, Kirkpatrick served on the executive committee of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) for 23 years, including serving as NMPF vice president from 1983-2003.

An example of his leadership character emerged in the late 1980s when he helped lead the charge to unify the promotion and marketing efforts of the U.S. dairy industry, bringing together the activities of the United Dairy Industry Association and the National Dairy Board through the formation of Dairy Management Incorporated, creating greater efficiencies in the national dairy promotion program.

Kirkpatrick accomplished many notable successes for the dairy industry, but one of his most influential roles was serving as the first chairman of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. From its inception, Kirkpatrick worked tirelessly to establish and grow the U.S. dairy export sector. At the time of its start, dairy exports represented less than 3 percent of annual U.S. milk production. Today, exports of U.S. dairy products exceed over 15 percent of U.S. milk production.

Kirkpatrick served as Chair of the U.S. Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Animals & Animal Products (ATAC) and was a member of the U.S. Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee for Trade (APAC).

As an accomplished dairy farmer, Kirkpatrick had been recognized with Michigan State University’s “Dairy Farmer of the Year” award in 1986 and the “Distinguished Service to Agriculture” award in 1987.

Upon Kirkpatrick’s retirement in 2007, the MMPA board of directors established the Elwood Kirkpatrick Dairy Science Research Fund at Michigan State University. The endowment fund pays tribute to Kirkpatrick’s dedication to advancing the research needs of the dairy industry. Kirkpatrick was instrumental in the establishment of the Revitalization of Animal Agriculture Initiative signed into Michigan law in 1993.

Kirkpatrick was born in Dwight Township on January 30, 1937 to the late Ross A. and Eula (Arnott) Kirkpatrick and was a lifetime dairy farmer.

He is survived by his wife, Michelle Kirkpatrick of Dwight Township; daughters: Lisa (Craig) Iden of Kinde and Rebecca Waling of Texas; sons: Dean (Maureen) Kirkpatrick, Ron (Andrea) Kirkpatrick, both from Kinde and Brad (Amy) Kirkpatrick of Traverse City; granddaughters: Corey, Casey, Brooke, and Natalie; grandsons: Randy, Dallas, Sean, Eric, Derek, Nathan, Colin and Ryan; and a special cousin, Beverly (Arnott) McFarland from Bay City. He was preceded in death by his cousin, Leslie Arnott.

Memorials may be offered to Heartland Hospice or to the Bad Axe Free Methodist Church.

2016 YC Planning Committee, from left: 2014 Runners Up Ken and Kristen Sparks, 2015 OYDC Shawn and Beth VanDrie, 2014 OYDC Carrie and Brian Preston, and 2015 OYDC Runners-Up Darren and Regina Coffey.

With fluctuating milk prices, an increasingly visible world on social media and tough decisions regarding farm succession, the next generation of dairy farmers must navigate through an evolving world.

The 2016 Young Cooperator (YC) Conference on April 15 in Mt. Pleasant tackled some of these issues at the annual meeting of MMPA’s younger members.  The morning session was led by MMPA President Ken Nobis, MMPA General Manager Joe Diglio and United Dairy Industry of Michigan (UDIM) CEO Sharon Toth. The leaders provided updates on the cooperative, the dairy industry and UDIM initiatives to promote dairy.

In the afternoon, Michigan State University Extension Educator Roger Betz rounded out the presentations with an overview of farm succession planning before the YCs headed out on a tour of member farm, Vanderploeg Holsteins.

Also in the afternoon, UDIM Director of Industry Relations Jolene Griffin led a presentation and panel on social media and communication with two MMPA members. As consumer demands continue to shape requirements of on-farm practices, social media may be an avenue to amplify consumer concerns, but also an opportunity for dairy farmers to share their own story. Griffin addressed the 60 YCs in attendance with an interactive presentation geared toward dairy promotion through social media.

“How can you connect with consumers?” Griffin asked. “Tell them about the great things you’re doing on your farm and your own personal dairy story. Every conversation matters.”

Griffin introduced MMPA members Katelyn Horning and Ashley Kennedy who are active in agriculture promotion through social media and blogging. Horning runs a Facebook page for her family’s farm, Horning Farms, and Kennedy runs a personal blog, Messy Kennedy, with integration on multiple social media channels.

Kennedy promotes agriculture in her blog by focusing on topics consumers relate to. “I aim for an audience. My goal is to reach millennial moms by blogging about more than just agriculture. There’s more to me than just the farm,” she explained.  “One third of my posts are about the farm and I hit tough topics like antibiotics and hormones. The other stuff is about things I enjoy, and I use it to draw in that target audience.”

Horning’s page highlights the daily activities on the farm. “Social media is an outlet to promote a positive image of agriculture. It can create a larger group that’s on your side,” she relayed.

Yet Horning said she has faced negative responses on social media, advising the YCs to use those opportunities to positively address their concerns: “You may not change that person’s mind, but you need to stay positive for other people who may read your conversation online. Stay professional and positive.”

Griffin rounded out the session noting the importance of positive interactions online and relating on a personal level with consumers. Though she recognized social media is not for everyone, it is important to know the right messages to convey because conversations about agriculture and dairy can start anywhere.

“Every conversation matters. Avoid acronyms, put your terms into words that make sense to consumers. Storytelling is key,” Griffin said. “Share stories with people and connect on those levels, finding a shared value resonates with consumers.”


The YC Conference is a component of the MMPA Outstanding Young Dairy Cooperator (OYDC) program, established in 1950.

Purpose of the OYDC Program:

  • Strengthen leadership abilities in young farmers
  • Broaden young farmer’s knowledge of milk marketing and MMPA
  • Recognize the abilities and stewardship of young dairy farmers

On August 18-19, MMPA will host a two-day conference for the Top 10 OYDCs in Novi to select the 2016 OYDC representative and runners-up. The Top 10 OYDCs will be selected in the coming weeks. For more information, contact Jessica Welch at jwelch@nullmimilk.com or 248-474-6672.

Learn More About the YC Program



NOVI, Mich.—Fifty-three MMPA members were recognized with 35 or 50 year member awards at the MMPA 100th Annual State Delegate Meeting, March 24, 2016. MMPA has traditionally recognized 35- year members and this year added the new MMPA Milestone award to honor those holding membership for 50 years or more.

MMPA President Ken Nobis congratulated and praised the 35-year members for their dedication to the cooperative: “We commend you for your dedication and loyalty to MMPA and the dairy industry over the last 35 years.”

After the 35-year members were recognized, Nobis recognized the inaugural group of MMPA Milestone award winners who joined MMPA in the year 1966 or earlier. In 2017 and in the years to come, MMPA will continue to honor those who reach the 50 year membership mark.

“Across the 1,200 member farms, there are a select few who have remained loyal to our cooperative for half of MMPA’s existence or more,” Nobis explained before presenting the awards. “Twenty-six members have achieved 50 or more years of membership including one member who signed his contract 62 years ago in 1954.”

A video presentation showcased the vast changes the Michigan dairy industry has undergone the past several years and since these members began dairy farming.

The presentation highlighted information from 1981 and 1966, when these members joined MMPA. In 1981, there were 6,225 MMPA members in who marketed a total of 3.36 billion pounds of milk, while in 1966 membership totaled 8,539 and marketed 2.97 billion pounds of milk. Today, MMPA has approximately 1,200 members and marketed over 4.63 billion pounds of milk in the 2015 fiscal year.

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

MMPA 35-Year Members

  • Dale Baker, Jonesville
  • Bruce Benthem, McBain
  • Douglas Benthem, McBain
  • Irving Christensen, Posen
  • Thomas Fox, Mt. Pleasant
  • Stephen Innes, Marlette
  • Dennis Kamphouse, Marion
  • Mildred Keinath, Millington
  • Edward Joe Lawler, Snover
  • Ernest O’Connor, Mendon
  • James Ogden, Union City
  • Richard Papes, Free Soil
  • Victor Puschel, Allegan
  • Melvin Puschel, Hopkins
  • Lawrance & Emeline Riske, Hanover
  • Arthur Riske, Hanover
  • Bruce Riske, Hanover
  • Steven Roth, Lowell
  • Dennis Schoeder, Harbor Beach
  • Tracy Sohn, North Branch
  • Jeffry Thelen, St. Johns
  • Dian Volmering, Harbor Beach
  • Allen Weber, Pinconning
  • William Weber, Pinconning
  • Daniel Weil, Goodrich
  • Charles White, Fowlerville
  • Richard Zacharias, China
  • Kenneth Zuiderveen, Falmouth

MMPA 50+ Year Members

  • Robert C Anderson, Paris
  • Robert E Breuninger, Dexter
  • David P Brown, Cheboygan
  • Donald Budzinski, Cheboygan
  • David Evans, Litchfield
  • Fred Freight, Tecumseh
  • Velmar Green, Elsie
  • Corliss T Gulembo III, Fountain
  • Leon Hamming, McBain
  • Rodger Hisler, Charlotte
  • Earl Horning, Manchester
  • Robert Kartes, West Branch
  • John Kiessling, Marshall
  • Leonard W Koutz, Edmore
  • John Kronemeyer, Pickford
  • A Verne Juengel, Grand Blanc
  • Harry E Martin, Marion
  • Dale A McCarty, Carsonville
  • Richard Noake, Lapeer
  • Carl Minnis, Webberville
  • Edward Reimann, Cheboygan
  • William D Stough, Clare
  • Alfred C Stuever, Lynn
  • Edward Stakenas, Free Soil
  • Gerald Surbrook, Rives Junction

MMPA Leaders Elected

NOVI, Mich.—Delegates attending the 100th annual meeting of the Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) on March 24 reelected Ken Nobis, of St. Johns, to an at-large, three-year term on the board of directors. Delegates also elected Gertie van den Goor of Marlette, Michigan to her first three-year term in an at-large position.

During the board’s reorganizational meeting, held after the delegate meeting, the following officers were elected: President: Ken Nobis, St. Johns; Vice President: Mark Halbert, Battle Creek; Treasurer: Eric Frahm, Frankenmuth.

Board members elected at the district level were: Doug Chapin of Remus, District 5 and Scott Lamb of Jeddo, District 8.

Delegates also elected representatives to the MMPA Advisory Committee. Members of this committee serve as a liaison between the membership and the board of directors and management.

Advisory Committee members elected this year to a two-year term are:

District 1: Bruce Lewis, Jonesville; Jeff Horning, Manchester
District 2: Michael Oesch, Middlebury, IN; Mark Crandall, Battle Creek
District 3: Tim Butler, Sand Lake; Bill Gruppen, Zeeland
District 4: Marvin Rubingh, Ellsworth; Jeremy Werth, Herron
District 5: Mike Rasmussen, Edmore; Lyle Vanderwal, Lake City
District 6: David Reed, Owosso; Jamie Meyer, Ionia
District 7: Mark Iciek, Gladwin; John Bennett, Prescott
District 8: Darwin Sneller, Sebewaing; Bill Blumerich, Berlin

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.—Jacob and Elaine Jahfetson and family of Baraga, Mich. were named Michigan Milk Producers Association’s (MMPA) Top Quality Award Winners for the third consecutive year at MMPA’s annual meeting in Lansing on March 24, 2016.

The Jahfetsons run a 24-cow dairy that obtained the highest quality records in 2013, 2014 and 2015 among the nearly 1,200 farms belonging to MMPA. To qualify, a producer must meet MMPA’s quality premium requirements for an entire year.

“The member who receives the Top Quality Award is an inspiration to all MMPA members. If one member can do it, it shows what is possible for others to achieve,” MMPA Director of Member Services Dean Letter said. “The Jahfetsons are an excellent example of quality producers and continual improvement. The family pays incredibly close attention to every detail, they know exactly what their cows are doing and address any problems immediately.”

Since 1990, MMPA has recognized the farm that produces the highest quality milk for the year. The Jahfestons’ have received MMPA quality awards for the past 15 years and are a testament to the power of a long-term commitment to milk quality. Their persistent attention to cow cleanliness, cow comfort and a detailed, correct, consistent milking procedure helped them achieve the prestigious award.

Read more about the Jahfetsons in the April issue of the Michigan Milk Messenger.

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

MMPA Hosts 100th Annual State Delegate Meeting

Novi, MICH.—The 100th Annual State Delegate Meeting of the Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) was held on March 24 at the Lansing Center in Lansing, Michigan. The meeting included an appearance by Gov. Rick Snyder and the announcement of a sizable milk donation to the Food Bank Council of Michigan.

“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.”

Ken Nobis, MMPA president, announced the donation of 100 gallons of milk per day for an entire year to the Food Bank Council of Michigan. The donation is in recognition of MMPA’s 100th anniversary and a continuation of several other milk donations MMPA has made over the past year.

Representatives from JPMorgan, Consumers Energy and CoBank congratulated MMPA on the anniversary, presenting commemorative plaques and awards to MMPA. Mike Schweickert of JPMorgan noted MMPA was the Chase bank’s ninth customer and has been the cooperative’s banking partner since 1933. Consumers Energy and CoBank also pledged monetary support of MMPA’s milk donation to assist with processing and packaging costs.

Nobis also addressed the approximately 500 attendees with his speech outlining the qualities necessary to become a long-lasting business, saying, “We have been in existence for 100 years but it doesn’t really feel like we have, and maybe that’s because we keep evolving. As markets change, we adapt. In 1916 our markets were close by and by comparison quite simple. Today we still deal locally but we are also cognizant of the global market place, and when appropriate we market globally. We are adapting to the changing playing field and developing markets and membership across the state line.”

MMPA General Manager Joe Diglio unveiled the cooperative’s core values—quality, integrity, progressive, community and leadership—to guide MMPA into the next century.

“As a grass roots organization where member-owners play an instrumental role in governance, trust and reputation become critical to our DNA. Continuing to operate in a manner that our founding members have established 100 years ago is important and relevant in maintaining relationships and strong leadership during a changing environment,” Diglio stated, explaining the role of “integrity” as a core value.

MMPA Treasurer Eric Frahm presented the financial status of the cooperative, reporting a net savings in fiscal year 2015 of $6 million.

Business conducted by the delegates included the adoption of the 2016 MMPA resolutions and reelection of Ken Nobis of St. Johns, Michigan to the board of directors in a three-year, at-large position. Delegates also elected Gertie van den Goor of Marlette, Michigan to her first three-year term in an at-large position. She is the second woman in MMPA history to hold a position on the board of directors.

Nobis recognized 28 individuals holding MMPA membership for 35 years. He honored these individuals for their commitment and hard work to the dairy industry and MMPA. Each 35-year member was presented with a plaque. MMPA also began recognizing members with over 50 years of MMPA membership with the MMPA Milestone Award. Twenty-six individuals were recognized with this award and were presented with a plaque at the meeting.

MMPA Board Member Hank Choate introduced the 2015 Top 10 Outstanding Young Dairy Cooperators (OYDC) at the meeting, including Shawn and Beth VanDrie, of Lake City, who were officially recognized as MMPA’s 2015 OYDC.

Dean Letter, director of member services, and Frank Brazeau, member representative, presented Jacob and Elaine Jahfetson and family of Baraga, Michigan with the highest quality milk production award. The Jahfetsons achieved the best quality records in 2015, 2014 and 2013 among MMPA’s 1,200 farms. Along with a plaque from MMPA, the Jahfetsons received a $250 gift certificate for the MMPA Merchandise Program from Ecolab.

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.

Consumers Energy, CoBank to assist with processing costs

Lansing, MICH.—The Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) will donate 100 gallons of milk per day for an entire year to the Food Bank Council of Michigan. The donation—totaling 36,500 gallons—was announced at the MMPA Annual State Delegate Meeting last week and is a component of MMPA’s recognition of its 100th anniversary.

“We know that these days hunger doesn’t stop and neither does MMPA’s concern for community. In recognition of MMPA’s 100th anniversary, MMPA will be donating 100 gallons of milk per day for an entire year to the Food Bank Council of Michigan,” Ken Nobis, dairy farmer and president of MMPA said. “We are tremendously grateful for all the work the Food Bank does every day to provide families in need with wholesome, nutritious meals and we want to do our part to help in their efforts.”

“The tremendous generosity of the Michigan Milk Producers Association will help nourish thousands of children across Michigan,” said Dr. Phillip Knight, executive director of the Food Bank Council of Michigan. “This is another significant step toward our goal to solve hunger.”

Representatives from Consumers Energy and CoBank joined MMPA at the meeting, congratulating the cooperative on its anniversary and announcing monetary donations to the Food Bank Council of Michigan to assist with processing and packaging of the milk.

“We would like to congratulate MMPA for achieving their 100th anniversary, and extend our compliments for the exemplary way they’ve chosen to celebrate their milestone,” said Christopher Laird, director of business customer experience at Consumers Energy. “Their program aligns with our promise of caring for the Michigan communities we serve. We are excited to support their efforts to deliver milk to families in need across the state.”

Over the past year, MMPA has made three separate donations to the Food Bank Council of Michigan and the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, combating the shortage of milk at food banks and assisting with hunger-relief efforts. Two donations of 12,000 gallons of milk were made to directly assist those impacted by the Flint water crisis.

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.

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