Meeting in the Middle: MMPA forms farmer sustainability committee

While we are still facing a global pandemic, the undercurrent of pursuing a more sustainable future continues to move in both the private and public sectors. From carbon credits being furthered in the legislative landscape and greenhouse gas emissions being highlighted on product packaging, the agriculture industry is meeting the demands of consumers with visions of a sustainable future.

Fortunately, the agriculture industry is in a better place than many. Agriculture has a good story to tell with data proving how far farmers have come in the past 20 years and the unique ability to capture carbon while efficiently producing a cost-effective and nutrient-dense product.

“For many dairy farmers who have had multiple generations involved in their operations, their definition of sustainability revolves around the ability to leave a family legacy behind,” Sarah Michalek, MMPA sustainability supervisor said.

“Companies across industries have been announcing carbon emissions goals this year, and the dairy industry has naturally positioned itself to contribute to these goals through the continuous improvements and technologies implemented to improve their dairies. The agriculture industry and dairy specifically has a great story to tell and we at MMPA are contributing to that positive story,” she added.

MMPA’s customers are reacting to the mainstream consumer who cares about the future of the planet and have showcased the necessity of developing a sustainability program. To help meet customers’ needs, MMPA is driving sustainability efforts with a mission established by the board of directors:

“To continually strive for a more sustainable future – for our community, our environment, our economy’s health, and for the lives and world around us.”

For MMPA, sustainability is focused around the three pillars of social responsibility, environmental stewardship and economic viability. To keep with their cooperative nature, the MMPA board of directors established a Farmer Sustainability Advisory Council (FSAC), chaired by Tony Jandernoa, Vice Chair of the Board of Directors.

“People are frustrated with sustainability, but the environment is important to everyone,” Jandernoa said. “With the formation of FSAC, we are hoping that we can get a dialogue going with these companies so that we can find a solution that works for everyone.”

The committee is comprised of eight members who will regularly meet with customers who have expressed interest in finding sustainable solutions to implement on dairy farms. This unique pairing of customers and farmers will provide a platform to openly discuss sustainability topics and resources to provide guidance on feasibility of potential sustainable solutions.

“By sitting down with [customers] and coming up with real solutions that work with their idea of sustainability and our idea of sustainability, I think we can have a program that works,” Jandernoa said. “The FSAC will help lead those conversations.”

Meeting in the middle between members’ farms and customer’s corporate headquarters will allow farmers to share their efforts and goals on the farm to individuals equally passionate about the future of the planet.

MMPA Farmer Sustainability Advisory Committee 

The MMPA board of directors formed a Farmer Sustainability Advisory Committee (FSAC) as part of the cooperative’s continued commitment to producing high quality milk in a socially, economically and environmentally responsible manner. MMPA values the feedback and insight members can provide on farm sustainability efforts and have taken steps to formalize member engagement in our sustainability program through a new committee. Appointed by the MMPA board of directors, the committee is comprised of a chairperson and eight district members.

Farmer Sustainability Advisory Committee members

  • Committee Chairman: Tony Jandernoa
  • District 1: Carlton Evans
  • District 2: Richard Thomas
  • District 3: Bruce Riffle
  • District 4: Jeremy Werth
  • District 5: Ryan Benthem
  • District 6: Jamie Meyer
  • District 7: James Weber
  • District 8: Gertie Van den Goor

This article was originally published in the September/October 2020 issue of the Milk MessengerSubscribe »