Ryan Benthem named 2023 MMPA Outstanding Young Dairy Cooperator

NOVI, Mich.— Ryan Benthem of McBain, Michigan, was selected as the state winning 2023 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 winning cooperator, Benthem will represent MMPA at various industry and association activities.

BJ and Autumn Benkovsky of Eaton Rapids, Michigan, were selected as the runners-up cooperators. Selection of the OYDC is based on the applicant’s farming operations, farm-related and community activities and demonstrated leadership abilities.

Benthem farms 4,500 acres and operates a 3,450-cow dairy with his family. He represents District 3 of MMPA. Benthem and his family put a priority on having a forward-thinking mindset while finding new ways to be sustainable.

“We think by creating more efficient ways of doing our day-to-day tasks, we can be less wasteful of the resources that we have,” Benthem said. “Our farm’s mission is to create a good environment for the employees and animals, to be good stewards of the land, and have a positive impact on their community.”

Benthem was one of several finalists invited to the annual OYDC Conference held on Aug. 8. The OYDC Conference, held at MMPA headquarters in Novi, 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 over 70 years.

“The OYDC program is a fundamental tool in encouraging young dairy cooperators to network and learn more about their cooperative to help identify future leaders and recognize their efforts,” Doug Chapin, MMPA board chairman, said. Chapin and his wife, Cheri, were the MMPA OYDC runners-up in 1990.

All MMPA OYDC finalists will be officially recognized at MMPA’s 108th Annual Meeting to be held March 2024.

2023 OYDC Finalists

  • BJ and Autumn Benkovsky – Eaton Rapids, Mich.
  • Bryan and Molly Benson – Cadillac, Mich.
  • Ryan Benthem – McBain, Mich.
  • Steve and Whitney Wamhoff – Hopkins, Mich.

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.