Milk Minute: Taking Charge of Change

By Doug Chapin, MMPA Board Chairman

We have several unknowns in the marketplace today. We’re still facing supply chain and logistic issues from the COVID-19 pandemic, and now are dealing with inflation and the conflict in Eastern Europe. All of these cause worry and concern, but I think we should take a minute and acknowledge the strong position that dairy is in today.

Here, within the U.S., the average person consumed 655 pounds of dairy products. That is a 22 percent improvement since 1975, and an all-time high. Our consumers may have changed the products that drive that consumption, but our dairy products are desired and sought out by our customers, who recognize the nutrition, taste and value of dairy products. We are a staple of almost every home in America.

We also experienced a record year in exports by exporting over 17 percent of the milk we produce. We set a record in both value and volume of dairy leaving the U.S. The world also recognizes and desires the nutrition, taste and value that United States dairy can provide.

This progress is a result of taking charge of change within the industry. The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) is heading up efforts to make a positive change in their approach to the Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO). They are not content to just tweak it but want to make changes that set us up to move forward in the coming years. NMPF is committed to a plan that works for producers and it is important that the industry goes forward together. We cannot allow the industry to become divided by regional issues. We must be one voice to accomplish the modernization of the FMMO.

An area where your association has taken charge of change is in the purchase of Superior Dairy on December 31, 2021. The acquisition was the culmination of years of working together. Superior’s management team and MMPA’s board of directors met several times over the preceding years. After months of discussion, the path forward was clear. Everyone from our board of directors and our management team to Superior’s management team and ownership, was aligned on the acquisition of LEL and their three subsidiaries: Superior Dairy, LEL Logistics and Creative Edge.

Today, we can use our combined strengths of innovation, processing, marketing, management and a premium milk supply not only to better serve customers but also bring value to all of our member owners. With the purchase completed and behind us, we are looking to the challenges ahead of us. The alignment that all parties had at the purchase, was based on the opportunities in front of us.

I know 2021 was a year of tight margins and I know the dairy markets have been difficult the last several years. I’m not going to deny that we had challenges in the past, that we have challenges yet today and we will have challenges facing us tomorrow. I just hope that as dairy producers, we can take some time to recognize that today we have record prices, record exports and record per capita consumption here in the U.S. We need to relish in that success knowing that the market doesn’t change the focus of your board of directors or management team. We continue to search for opportunities to increase the value of our milk and grow and strengthen the co-op. We are always looking at ways to take charge of change.

This article was originally published in the March/April 2022 issue of the Milk MessengerSubscribe »