Milk Minute: MMPA’s Key to Success: Informed and Involved Members

By Doug Chapin, MMPA Board Chairman

MMPA member involvement is key to our success and sets us apart from other cooperatives. Our members’ involvement strengthens our association, and it has helped us succeed through volatile dairy markets. While it’s critical that members participate in elections and cooperative business, it’s equally important that our cooperative remains successful in the future. To do that, we must attract the right leadership talent which only comes from having informed and involved member owners.

During our Annual Meeting last March, the membership recognized how our association has changed through the years and unanimously approved a member-driven proposal to update our governance structure. We’ve seen our industry change and farms consolidate, and it’s no surprise that what may have worked a century ago was no longer working in today’s environment. The proposed changes led us to change from a delegate system to giving every farm one vote, and we redistricted to better align ourselves with the number of members we have today.

As a result of the changes, we held virtual membership briefings over the summer to provide an update to membership on our cooperative business. The management team at MMPA shared industry happenings and gave insight into MMPA’s market strategy.

In December, we held District Meetings for the first time where all members were invited to attend and conduct cooperative business. The meetings were a good chance for members to interact and learn about the cooperative, while meeting with staff. The attendance was encouraging, and I appreciated the questions that members asked. Overall, the district meetings allowed every member to participate in the governance of the cooperative, a critical component of a successful cooperative.

The changes to our governance structure also allowed us to evaluate our member committees and how we share information with our membership. It’s led to the development of a legislative group for members interested in legislative affairs. It’s also created CORE, an opportunity for members to get involved and learn more about MMPA. While CORE is just getting off the ground, we’re excited to officially share dates with our members and invite them to participate.

The first CORE program will be MMPA 101, which will be a good chance for members to understand their milk check and the tools MMPA has from the lab work to field staff involvement. MMPA 101 will also include a tour of our laboratory in Novi and will fill in a lot of blanks for those who haven’t been as involved before. Following MMPA 101, members will have the opportunity to participate in a Sustainability Summit to recognize what we’re already doing on the sustainability front and what areas we are working to improve in the future. We’re also excited to bring members to our Canton, Ohio plant as part of the CORE program in April. As a key part of our association’s initiatives, the acquisition of that plant was a significant investment and I encourage all members to learn how your money is being spent.

These opportunities are great to learn the key parts of our association’s initiatives and understand how members’ investments in the cooperative is working for them. As owners of the cooperative, our members have a significant investment in our business, and I encourage everyone to participate in the co-op and learn what that investment is doing for their operation.

This article was originally published in the January/February 2024 issue of the Milk MessengerSubscribe »