Michigan dairy farmer Ashley Kennedy, a member of the Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA), testified on behalf of MMPA and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) at the Senate Agriculture Committee’s first hearing dedicated to the upcoming Farm Bill, the twice-a-decade reauthorization of all USDA programs.

“I couldn’t have come back to the family farm if it were not for many of these programs,” said Kennedy, whose family milks 240 cows in east-central Michigan, at the field hearing held Friday at Michigan State University in East Lansing. “Being a part of the conversation is essential to see a future that reflects opportunity and success.”

Addressing Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), who presided over the hearing, Kennedy discussed her perspective as a third-generation farmer on the successes and shortcomings of current dairy policies and programs Congress must address in the next reauthorization. Kennedy thanked the committee, and Chairwoman Stabenow in particular, for overhauling the dairy safety net during the last farm bill and providing producers with access to crop insurance-like risk management tools, which puts dairy farmers on par with producers of other commodities.

Kennedy praised the Dairy Margin Coverage program as “essential to our farm and family’s financial success last year” and called attention to recent improvements that accounted for modest production increases and better reflect dairy farmer feed costs.

Still, the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic for the dairy sector in Michigan and nationwide need to be incorporated into the next reauthorization of federal farm programs, she said in her written testimony. The effects of federal programs on milk pricing deserve special attention, she said. “The combined effects of the change made to the Class I mover in the last farm bill, and the government’s heavy cheese purchases, cost dairy farmers over $750 million in Class I skim revenue during the last six months of 2020.”

The dairy industry, under NMPF leadership, is seeking consensus on a range of improvements to the Federal Milk Marketing Order system, including but not limited to the Class I mover, that can be taken to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for consideration in a national order hearing.

Beyond economic policy, Kennedy also advocated for additional investments in conservation programs to help dairy farmers build on their ongoing sustainability work; urged a doubling of funding for key trade promotion programs; and spoke to the importance of farm bill nutrition programs as “the bedrock of linking the food we produce as farmers to households across the country.”

Kennedy closed by offering a personal take on the need for significant mental health policy in the farm bill. “Stress in rural America is not talked about enough, which is unfortunate, because it’s a problem we can only solve by working together.” Kennedy thanked the committee for reauthorizing the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network in the last farm bill but urged that even more robust resources be provided.

The Senate Agriculture Committee is expected to hold an additional field hearing in Arkansas, the home state of Ranking Republican John Boozman, in the coming weeks.

The Michigan Milk Producers Association–established in 1916–is a member-owned and operated milk marketing cooperative and dairy processor serving dairy farmers throughout Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana. In addition to a cheese plant in Indiana and a dairy product plant in Ohio, 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.

LANSING, Mich.—Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) delegates gathered in Lansing, Michigan on March 24 to conduct official business during MMPA’s 106th Annual Delegate Meeting. Over 200 attendees, including members and employees, heard from MMPA leadership and industry partners on how MMPA is taking charge of change, this year’s meeting theme.

MMPA board chairman Doug Chapin reflected on the prior year, showcasing how the MMPA board of directors guided the cooperative in line with taking charge of change. “An area where your association has taken charge of change is in the purchase of Superior Dairy on December 31, 2021,” he said. “It was the culmination of years of working together and every time we met it was to discuss how we could win by working together.”

Joe Diglio, MMPA president and CEO, expanded on the acquisition of Superior Dairy in Canton, Ohio, describing how taking charge of change begins with aligning in a vision. “It isn’t just one person’s strategy that makes us successful, it’s a team of people that believe in the direction and help accomplish our desired outcome,” he said. “We are excited about our opportunities in front of us and look forward to taking charge of change together.”

MMPA Treasurer Eric Frahm presented the financial status of the cooperative and reported on a strong balance sheet with annual net savings in fiscal year 2021 of $4.3 million. MMPA recently paid out $1.1 million in cash patronage refunds to its dairy farmer members, representing twenty-five percent of the net savings with the remaining non-cash balance allocated to certificates of equity to be revolved back to members in future years.

Business conducted by the delegates included the adoption of the 2021 MMPA resolutions and election of MMPA member Bruce Benthem of McBain, Mich. to his first at-large term on the board of directors and the reelection of Aaron Gasper of Lowell, Mich. to the board of directors. Both Benthem and Gasper will serve three-year terms on the board of directors.

In the board reorganizational meeting held at the conclusion of the delegate meeting, the following officers were reelected: Doug Chapin as board chairman, Tony Jandernoa as board vice chairman and Eric Frahm as treasurer.

The annual meeting proceedings also involved recognition of several MMPA members including Kip and Rochelle Siegler of Imlay City, Mich. as the 2021 Outstanding Young Dairy Cooperators (OYDC), Nolan Wieber, of Fowler, Mich. as the OYDC Runner-up and all the 2021 OYDC finalists. Koppenol Dairy Farms were also recognized as MMPA’s Top Quality Award Winner. They achieved the best quality records in 2021 among all MMPA farms. Along with a plaque from MMPA, the Koppenols received a $250 gift certificate for the MMPA Farm Supply Store from Ecolab.

Chapin recognized 16 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 recognized members with over 50 years of MMPA membership with the MMPA Milestone Award. Five individuals were recognized with this award and were presented with a plaque at the meeting.

The Michigan Milk Producers Association–established in 1916–is a member-owned and operated milk marketing cooperative and dairy processor serving dairy farmers throughout Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana. In addition to a cheese plant in Indiana and a dairy product plant in Ohio, 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.

NOVI, Mich.— Twenty-one Michigan Milk Producer Association (MMPA) members were today awarded National Dairy Quality Awards, making up nearly half of the total award winners. These MMPA members were among 47 nationally recognized farms in the annual award program and were selected from a pool of 86 applicants nationwide.

The National Dairy Quality Award program recognizes farms who have produced high-quality milk consistently in three tiers: platinum, gold and silver. This year, MMPA members earned one platinum award, eight gold awards and twelve silver awards. The awards presentation took place today during the National Mastitis Council Annual Meeting in San Diego, California.

Platinum Award winning Crandall Dairy Farms LLC in Battle Creek, Michigan. From left to right: Mark Crandall, Kelley Wagner, Thomas Wagner, Stacey Koyl, Brad Crandall.

MMPA’s large representation in the National Dairy Quality Awards is a testament to MMPA’s dedicated field staff and the hard work of the cooperative’s farms.

“This year’s National Dairy Quality Awards results underscores our members’ commitment to producing the highest quality milk possible,” Dean Letter, MMPA director of member services said. “The impressive showing of members in the award program is because of our member’s dedication to quality and their tenacity in overcoming the daily challenges of dairy farming. Congratulations to our twenty-one members recognized!”

MMPA offers a portfolio of member services to help members produce the highest quality milk possible. MMPA’s team of field representatives provide an on-farm partnership that helps each member achieve milk quality and herd health goals. MMPA also offers a quality premium incentive for its members producing higher quality milk. In fiscal year 2021, total producer incentive premiums including quality totaled $23.6 million.

The National Dairy Quality Award program evaluates farm applicants 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

  • Brad, Mark and Larry Crandall, Battle Creek, Michigan

Gold Awards

  • Don Beattie, Holton, Michigan
  • Jeff, Earl and Mason Horning; Katelyn Packard, Manchester, Michigan
  • Burke and Lisa Larsen, Scottville, Michigan
  • Michigan State University, Lansing, Michigan
  • Tjerk and Ramona Okkema, Blanchard, Michigan
  • Mark and Jolinda Ramer, Hale, Michigan
  • David Schultz, Sandusky, Michigan
  • Kris and Carla Wardin, St. Johns, Michigan

Silver Awards

  • Charles Bode, Marion, Michigan
  • Michael Bosscher, McBain, Michigan
  • Ron Brinks, McBain, Michigan
  • Dale, Bonnie and Kurt Brinks, McBain, Michigan
  • Sam, Doug and Cheri Chapin, Remus, Michigan
  • Paul and Betty DeMann, Martin, Michigan
  • Steve, Phil, Kevin and Joel Gross, Weidman, Michigan
  • Norm, Kim and Derrick Hammond, Dowling, Michigan
  • Bill and Jason Hardy, Stanton, Michigan
  • Alan and Deborah Koppenol; Ken Raterink, Coopersville, Michigan
  • Allen and Aaron Slater, Holton, Michigan
  • Dave and Rick Tacoma, Falmouth, Michigan

 

The Michigan Milk Producers Association–established in 1916–is a member-owned and operated milk marketing cooperative and dairy processor serving dairy farmers throughout Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana. In addition to a cheese plant in Indiana and a dairy product plant in Ohio, 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.

NOVI, Mich.—The Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA), based in Novi, Michigan, today announced it will acquire Superior Dairy in Canton, Ohio, a subsidiary of LEL Operating Company.

Under the terms of the acquisition, all of LEL Operating Company’s subsidiaries, Superior Dairy, Inc., Creative Edge Design Group, Ltd., and LEL Logistics, Inc., will become wholly owned subsidiaries of MMPA effective December 31, 2021. Ultimately, the new organization will launch a multi-state dairy manufacturing and innovation campus with four facilities in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, employ a team of over 625 individuals, and service dairy farmers across the Great Lakes region.

Building on the strong partnership developed between the two organizations over the years, the acquisition will bring greater innovation, product diversity and efficiencies to the marketplace. With Superior Dairy under its umbrella, MMPA will be able to provide a greater focus on go-to market strategies more quickly than operating individually to meet the needs of customers and consumers while continuing to support farmers, employees and other stakeholders.

MMPA President & CEO Joe Diglio (left) with LEL Operating Company / Superior Dairy President & CEO Greg Soehnlen (right).

“MMPA’s relationship with Superior Dairy has accelerated over the last six years and we have mutually benefitted from our partnership. Bringing Superior Dairy into the MMPA family will enable us to better tap into their wealth of product development experience to bring value added processing capacity for our dairy farmer members,” said Joe Diglio, president and CEO of MMPA.

“Our partnership with MMPA and their members’ exceptional quality milk has been an integral part of our growth. By taking advantage of our combined manufacturing assets, we will continue our trajectory and the opportunities that this collaboration enables,” said Greg Soehnlen, President and CEO of Superior Dairy, Inc. and LEL Operating Company.

“The acquisition of Superior Dairy demonstrates how MMPA dairy farmer member-owners are committed to investing in innovation and technology for their future. This move ensures there is a reliable outlet for our farmers’ milk while securing their future within the dairy community,” said Doug Chapin, board chairman of MMPA and dairy farmer.

Both organizations have had long and proud histories of supplying quality milk and milk products to consumers and are strategically aligned on their vision for the future. MMPA is a 106-year-old dairy cooperative, while Superior Dairy was founded in 1922 and will soon celebrate the company’s 100th anniversary. To generate long-term success of both organizations, the agreement provides for the repurposing and reutilization of each organization’s resources and current manufacturing facilities to better serve MMPA and Superior Dairy’s needs more collaboratively.

The Superior Dairy facility is located in Canton, Ohio. Superior Dairy, along with Creative Edge Design Group, Ltd., and LEL Logistics, Inc. will become wholly owned subsidiaries of MMPA effective December 31, 2021.

About the Michigan Milk Producers Association

MMPA is a dairy farmer owned cooperative founded in 1916. MMPA serves 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 cheese, ultra-filtered milk, butter, milk powder, cream and condensed skim milk.

About LEL Operating Company / Superior Dairy

LEL Operating Company is the parent holding company of the following three subsidiaries: Superior Dairy, Inc., Creative Edge Design Group, Ltd.  and LEL Logistics, Inc. Founded in 1922, Superior Dairy is best known for providing high quality fluid milk products, cottage cheese, sour cream, ice cream and chip dip. Since Superior Dairy private labels for many of our customers, millions of consumers enjoy our consistent and flavorful products, without necessarily knowing the Superior name. Creative Edge Design Group is the strategic think tank, research and development arm of LEL Operating Company.

Superior Dairy, which will be acquired by MMPA, is best known for producing high quality products, including fluid milk, at the Canton, Ohio facility.

NOVI, Mich.— Kip and Rochelle Siegler of Imlay City, Michigan, were selected as the state winning 2021 Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) Outstanding Young Dairy Cooperator (OYDC) by a panel of judges represented by leaders in the Great Lakes dairy industry.

As the state winning cooperators, the Sieglers will represent MMPA at various industry and association activities. Nolan Wieber of Pompeii, Michigan, was 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 Sieglers farm around 1,900 acres and operate a 200-cow dairy with Kip’s family. They are members of the MMPA Mid-Thumb Local in District 8. The couple also runs a successful YouTube channel, Kip Siegler Dairy Farming, with over 25,000 subscribers and 3 million total views. The Sieglers were featured on the cover of the latest issue of the Milk Messenger, MMPA’s member magazine (read online here).

“We view farming as a lifestyle not just a job and to be honored for excelling at something you love to do is the ultimate achievement,” Kip Siegler said.

Kip and Rochelle were one of several finalists invited to the annual OYDC Conference, an outdoor meeting hosted by 2020 OYDC Brent and Emily Simon at their farm in Westphalia, Michigan on August 10. The OYDC Conference provides participants with information about milk marketing activities, cooperatives, and other current events within the dairy industry. The program has been held annually for over 70 years.

2021 OYDC Finalists

  • Jason and Audrey Bischoff, Tawas City, Michigan
  • Adam and Charlie Freis, Wallace, Michigan
  • Zach Pixley, Nashville, Michigan
  • Daren Rubingh, Ellsworth, Michigan
  • Ryan and Katie Schumacher, Munger, Michigan
  • Kip and Rochelle Siegler, Imlay City, Michigan
  • Nolan Wieber, Pompeii, Michigan

MMPA is a dairy farmer owned cooperative founded in 1916. MMPA serves 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 cheese, ultra-filtered milk, butter, milk powder, cream and condensed skim milk.

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

A first-place award was granted to unsalted butter made at MMPA’s dairy plant in Ovid, Michigan. Butter made at MMPA’s dairy plant in Constantine, Michigan also took home a second-place award in salted butter.

“Our award-winning butter is one of MMPA’s signature products made from the high-quality milk from our farmer owners. We are proud of this recognition as it demonstrates the excellence of MMPA products and how our team works tireless to craft them,” Judy Lofgren, MMPA director of sales and supply chain said.

The World Dairy Expo Championship Dairy Product Contest is the only North American judging contest which encompasses all dairy products. The contest features 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 took place during the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin today. As a result of this contest, the Wisconsin Dairy Products Association (WDPA) annually funds scholarships for students preparing for careers in the dairy industry.

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

MMPA is a dairy farmer owned cooperative founded in 1916. MMPA serves dairy farmers in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin, handling approximately 5 billion pounds of milk annually.

MMPA appoints new chief financial officer

NOVI, Mich.—The Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA), the 10th largest dairy cooperative in the U.S., recently named Tom Downey to serve as chief financial officer (CFO).

As CFO, Downey will direct strategic planning and oversee all financial activities of MMPA. Downey is a results-oriented professional with a proven track record of operational and financial acumen.

“As MMPA continues our journey toward innovation and advancing our position within the industry, Tom’s forward-thinking vision and experience will be a great complement to our leadership team,” MMPA President and CEO Joe Diglio said.

Most recently, Downey worked for Alvarez & Marsal as a senior director where he advised client across multiple industries to help improve bottom line results. Downey previously held positions with Lighthouse Investment Partners and Ernst & Young. Downey has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in accounting from Michigan State University. He lives in the Metro Detroit area with his wife and twin daughters.

The Michigan Milk Producers Association–established in 1916–is a member-owned and operated milk marketing cooperative and dairy processor serving 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.

NOVI, Mich.—Fifteen Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) dairy farms were recently awarded National Dairy Quality Awards by the National Mastitis Council (NMC). Recognized during the virtual NMC 60th Annual Meeting last week, these MMPA members were among 46 nationally recognized farms in the annual award program.

One MMPA farm earned the highest honor, which was granted to only six dairy farms in the U.S. The platinum award winner was Wilson Centennial Farm in Carson City, Michigan. MMPA farms also won six gold awards and seven silver awards, plus one honorable mention.

The team at Wilson Centennial Farm. Photo courtesy of Carla Wardin and Hoard’s Dairyman.

“MMPA dairy farms continue to excel in milk quality and we are proud of their efforts toward continuous improvement. This year’s representation in the National Dairy Quality Awards, along with MMPA’s overall membership reaching record average quality test results is yet another testament to maintaining excellence,” Ben Chapin, manager of field services said.

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. Overall, MMPA members’ milk quality continued to improve through the year, with record low somatic cell counts (SCC), a key milk quality indicator. MMPA offers its own quality award program and this year presented awards to 368 member farms for the production of outstanding quality milk over the last fiscal year.

MMPA’s large representation in the NMC National Dairy Quality Award Program further underscores the hard work of the cooperative’s farms while competing against other well-performing farmers across the country.

NDQA judges considered many criteria when reviewing finalists’ applications. In addition to milk quality indicators, judges looked at specific details about each operation, including milking routine, cow comfort, udder health monitoring programs, treatment and prevention programs, strategies for overall herd health and welfare, and adherence to drug use and record keeping regulations.

This year’s NDQA sponsors included Boehringer Ingelheim, GEA, Ecolab, IBA Inc., Conewango, Cargill, Hoard’s Dairyman and NMC. NMC is an international professional organization, based in Minnesota, devoted to reducing mastitis and enhancing milk quality.

 

Platinum

  • Wilson Centennial Farm LLC (Brent, Nancy, Tyler and Ben Wilson), Carson City, Michigan

Gold

  • Beattie Farms (Don Beattie), Holton, Michigan
  • Crandall Dairy Farms LLC (Brad, Mark and Larry Crandall), Battle Creek, Michigan
  • Evergreen Dairy Farm LLC (Kris and Carla Wardin), Saint Johns, Michigan
  • Raterink Dairy Farm (Dennis, Brenda and Mike Raterink), Zeeland, Michigan
  • Larsen Farms (Burke and Lisa Larsen), Scottville, Michigan
  • Van Polen Farms (Ken, Duane, Laurie, Mike and Beth VanPolen), Marion, Michigan

Silver

  • Bon Dale Farm (Dale A. Brinks), McBain, Michigan
  • Bosscher Dairy (Michael Bosscher), McBain, Michigan
  • De Grins Oer Dairy (Tjerk and Ramona Okkema), Blanchard, Michigan
  • Clemens Dairy Farm Inc. (Eric and Shelly Clemens), West Branch, Michigan
  • Lambarth Farms LLC (David and Kat Mageean), Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Koppenol Dairy Farms, Inc. (Alan and Deborah Koppenol, and Ken Raterink), Coopersville, Michigan
  • Rubingh’s Dairyland LLC (Marvin Rubingh), Ellsworth, Michigan

Honorable Mention

  • Tacoma Dairy Inc (David and Rick Tacoma), Falmouth, Michigan

 

The Michigan Milk Producers Association–established in 1916–is a member-owned and operated milk marketing cooperative and dairy processor serving 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.

NOVI, Mich.— Brent and Emily Simon of Westphalia, Michigan, were selected as the state winning 2020 Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) Outstanding Young Dairy Cooperators (OYDC) by a panel of judges represented by leaders in the Great Lakes dairy industry.

As the state winning cooperators, Simons will represent MMPA at various industry and association activities. Drew and Beth Rupprecht of Vassar, Michigan, were selected as the runner-up young cooperators. Selection of the OYDC is based on the applicant’s farming operations, farm-related and community activities and demonstrated leadership abilities.

The Simons operate a quality award winning farm with 930 cows and 2,300 acres. They are members of the MMPA Mid-Michigan Local in District 6.

“The mission of Simon Dairy Farm is to produce the highest quality product possible while maintaining our families, employees and livestock as the highest priority,” the Simons said.

Brent is a graduate of the dairy management program at Michigan State University, while Emily has a bachelor’s degree from Davenport University. The farm was selected as a platinum quality award winner from the National Mastitis Council in 2016, has twice hosted the Alta Genetics showcase tour and was a World Dairy Expo virtual farm tour presenter in 2011. Brent serves as an MMPA delegate for District 6.

Brent and Emily were one of several finalists invited to the annual OYDC Conference held Aug. 11. They were selected to participate in the program earlier this year by fellow dairy farmers in their local area.

The OYDC Conference 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 for 70 years. This year’s program was an outdoor, modified meeting in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Though the conference is typically two days long and held at the MMPA headquarters, the meeting was adjusted to be in compliance with state regulations related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. The meeting also included a tour of Weber Family Dairy, owned by 2019 OYDC James Weber.

2020 Outstanding Young Cooperators Finalists (in alphabetical order):

  • Steven and Grace Adamic, North Branch, MI
  • Josie Diehl, Lupton, MI
  • Jesse and Chelsea Ramer, Elkhart, IN
  • Drew and Beth Rupprecht, Vassar, MI
  • Kip and Rochelle Siegler, Imlay City, MI
  • Brent and Emily Simon, Westphalia, MI

MMPA is a dairy farmer owned cooperative founded in 1916. MMPA serves approximately 1,300 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 cheese, ultra-filtered milk, butter, milk powder, cream and condensed skim milk.

LANSING, Mich.—As the coronavirus, or COVID-19, continues to spread, the Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) remains steadfast in its mission to market members’ milk to the greatest advantage possible while taking actions to protect the health and safety of our communities. Deemed a critical infrastructure business, MMPA continues to support the local and national dairy supply chain to ensure consumers have a safe, reliable supply of milk and dairy products.

In addition to continued business with customers, MMPA is responding to increased need at food banks in the Great Lakes region with dairy product donations. In Indiana, MMPA is donating cheese from Heritage Ridge Creamery to Second Helpings, an organization focused on providing meals to individuals and families in need, with particular emphasis now amidst the COVID-19 issue.  Additional cheese is also being donated to the Food Bank of Northern Indiana, an organization that provides food assistance in a six-county area in Northern Indiana.

Further, MMPA, along with Kroger’s Michigan Dairy plant, will donate over 2,020 pounds of milk per day to the Food Bank Council of Michigan throughout 2020. The first load of milk was delivered this week and the total donation of around 85,000 gallons of milk will ultimately reach all 83 counties of Michigan. MMPA has donated over 333,000 gallons of milk since 2015 including this year’s donation announced at MMPA’s 104th Annual State Delegate Meeting on March 12.

MMPA’s modified members- and employees-only annual meeting was held at the Lansing Center in Lansing, Michigan. Considering the continued spread of the coronavirus disease, MMPA limited the meeting to a reduced number of attendees. The meeting took place with a shortened agenda to conduct official business in accordance with MMPA bylaws. As the COVID-19 situation has processed, MMPA has been evaluating scheduled meetings, with many being canceled or postponed.

Unified by the theme, “Cultivating Connections. Driving Innovation.,” MMPA leaders at the modified meeting asserted the significance of building partnerships for the betterment of MMPA dairy farmer members and the dairy community.

In the MMPA board chairman report, Kris Wardin reflected on the prior year while asserting how the MMPA board of directors is guiding the cooperative in line with the meeting’s theme. “By cultivating connections – with our elected officials, other co-ops, customers and ultimately our end-user consumers – we can continue to build an even stronger co-op that will last another 100+ years,” he said. “But we have to be proactive! We must drive innovation with new products and look for partnerships that fit our core values.”

Joe Diglio, MMPA president and CEO, described how establishing relationships and building a strong team builds momentum for the future. “The more you learn and adapt to the challenges ahead, the more success you will have,” he said. “And to learn and adapt means you must trust each other on how to navigate the challenges.”

MMPA Treasurer Eric Frahm presented the financial status of the cooperative and reported annual revenue of $850 million.

Business conducted by the delegates included the adoption of the 2020 MMPA resolutions and election of MMPA members Kris Wardin and Bruce Lewis to the board of directors in three-year, at-large positions.

In the board reorganizational meeting held at the conclusion of the delegate meeting, the following officers were elected: Doug Chapin as board chairman, Tony Jandernoa as board vice chairman and Eric Frahm as treasurer.

The annual meeting proceedings also involved recognition of several MMPA members:

  • James Weber, of Vassar, Michigan as the 2019 Outstanding Young Dairy Cooperator
  • Leroy Zimmerman, of Carson City, Michigan, as the Top Quality Award Winner
  • Members who achieved membership milestones of 35 or 50 years with MMPA:
    • 50-Year Member: Dale E. Weidmayer
    • 35-Year Members: Robert W. Coulombe, Daniel & Dorothy Ritter, Randy G. Dragt, Brent & Nancy Wilson, David Adkinson, Raymond Bucholz, Jane M. Wood, Mark S. Rau, Robert A. Rau, James R. Richmond and Keith M. Richmond

The Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) is a dairy farmer owned cooperative founded in 1916. MMPA serves approximately 1,300 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.

Seventeen Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) dairy farmer members were recently awarded National Dairy Quality Awards by the National Mastitis Council (NMC), making up nearly 45 percent of the total winners. Honored at the NMC annual meeting in Orlando, Florida last week, these MMPA members were among 38 nationally recognized farms in the annual award program.

Two MMPA farms earned the highest honor, which was granted to only six dairy farms in the U.S. The platinum award winners were Kris and Carla Wardin of Evergreen Dairy in St. Johns, Michigan and Brent, Nancy, Tyler, Ben Wilson of Wilson Centennial Farm in Carson City, Michigan. MMPA farms won seven gold awards, eight silver awards in addition to four honorable mentions.

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.

MMPA’s large representation in the NMC National Dairy Quality Award program underscores the hard work of the cooperative’s farms while competing against other well-performing farmers across the country.

“MMPA dairy farms have a reputation for producing high quality milk and this year’s representation in the National Dairy Quality Awards is yet another a testament to maintaining excellence,” Ben Chapin, manager of field services said.

The winners were selected from a pool of 82 applicants nationwide. The winning operations stood out for consistently producing high-quality milk. 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.

The National Mastitis Council, along with quality partners Boehringer Ingelheim, GEA, Ecolab, IBA Inc., Conewango, milc Group and Hoard’s Dairyman sponsored the awards. The National Mastitis Council (NMC) is a not-for-profit professional organization devoted to reducing mastitis and enhancing milk quality. The NMC promotes research and provides information to the dairy industry on udder health, milking management, milk quality and milk safety.

 

Platinum Awards

  • Wilson Centennial Farm of Carson City, Michigan
  • Evergreen Dairy of St. Johns of Michigan

 

Gold Awards

  • Crandall Dairy Farms LLC of Battle Creek, Michigan
  • De Grins Oer Dairy of Blanchard, Michigan
  • Van Polen Farms of Marion, Michigan
  • Rubingh’s Dairyland LLC of Ellsworth, Michigan
  • Wirth Farms of Evart, Michigan
  • Gross Farm Inc of Weidman, Michigan
  • Raterink Dairy Farm of Zeeland, Michigan

 

Silver Awards

  • Dick Haven Farms LLC – Jersey Operation of McBain, Michigan
  • Schultz Dairy LLC of Sandusky, Michigan
  • Bosscher Dairy of McBain, Michigan
  • Spring Lake Farm of Stanton, Michigan
  • Benthem Brothers Inc of McBain, Michigan
  • Nienhuis Family Dairy of Zeeland, Michigan
  • Bontrager Farm of Wolcottville, Indiana
  • Leroy Zimmerman of Carson City, Michigan

 

Honorable Mention

  • Higgins Farm of Grant, Michigan
  • Ephraim Martin of Sheridan, Michigan
  • Dodde Dale Farms LLC of Falmouth, Michigan
  • Gilde Farms of Lake City, Michigan

 

The Michigan Milk Producers Association–established in 1916–is a member-owned and operated milk marketing cooperative and dairy processor serving approximately 1,300 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.

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

For the 2019-2020 academic year, MMPA awarded 9 scholarships, totaling over $20,000. The scholarship recipients were honored and introduced to MMPA members at the annual Leaders’ Conference on Nov. 22 in East Lansing, Michigan.

“The legacy of our cooperative is made stronger by supporting the education of future dairy industry leaders. These scholarships encourage the next generation to develop new skills and pursue careers in the dairy industry,” said Joe Diglio, MMPA President & CEO.

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.

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 two year, 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.

Scholarship applications for the 2020-2021 academic year are due Sept. 1, 2020. 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.

Scholarship Recipients

  • Wyatt Lamb of Jeddo, Michigan
  • Calvin Minnis of Dansville, Michigan
  • Shania Drake of Pigeon, Michigan
  • Adam Jones of Mason, Michigan
  • Olivia Walker of Lapeer, Michigan
  • Kassidy Thelen of Westphalia, Michigan
  • Jack Baker of Byron Center, Michigan
  • Ian Black of Eagle, Michigan
  • Mikayla Bowen of Hudson, Michigan
MSU scholarship students were honored at the MMPA Leaders’ Conference on Nov. 22 (L-R): Jack Baker, Ian Black, Mikalya Bowen, Calvin Minnis, Shania Drake, Olivia Walker and Wyatt Lamb.