Koppenol Dairy Farm was honored by MMPA at the 101st Annual State Delegate Meeting on March 23 for producing the highest quality milk in the cooperative. From left: MMPA Member Representative Joe Packard, Alan and Deborah Koppenol, MMPA President Ken Nobis and MMPA Director of Member Services Dean Letter.

LANSING, Mich.—Koppenol Dairy Farm of Coopersville, Michigan were named Michigan Milk Producers Association’s (MMPA) Top Quality Award Winners at MMPA’s annual meeting in Lansing on March 23, 2017.

Alan and Deborah Koppenol run a 195-cow dairy that obtained the highest quality records in 2016 among the nearly 1,200 farms belonging to MMPA. To qualify, a producer must meet MMPA’s quality premium requirements for an entire year.

The Koppenols stress prevention first over treatment to ensure the health of their herd and maintain high quality milk. They have always taken extreme personal pride in producing high quality milk.

Since 1990, MMPA has recognized the farm that produces the highest quality milk for the year. “It takes commitment by everyone on the farm to meet MMPA’s quality premium levels every month of the year,” says Dean Letter, MMPA director of member services.

Koppenol Dairy Farm was featured in the April issue of the Michigan Milk MessengerRead more »

MMPA—established in 1916—is a member owned and operated dairy cooperative serving approximately 2,000 dairy farmers in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin.


MMPA recognizes 35- and 50-year members

During the MMPA annual meeting on March 23, 35- and 50-year members shared stories and words of advice about their membership with the cooperative through the years.

LANSING, Mich.—Twenty-three MMPA members were recognized with 35 or 50 year member awards at the MMPA 101st Annual State Delegate Meeting, March 23, 2017. MMPA has traditionally recognized 35-year members and last year added the new MMPA Milestone award to honor those holding membership for 50 years.

MMPA President Ken Nobis congratulated and praised the 35-year members for their dedication to the cooperative: “We commend you for your dedication and loyalty to MMPA and the dairy industry over the years.”

After the 35-year members were recognized, Nobis recognized the group of MMPA Milestone award winners who joined MMPA in the year 1967.

A video presentation showcased the vast changes the Michigan dairy industry has undergone the past several years and since these members began dairy farming.

The presentation highlighted information from 1982 and 1967, when these members joined MMPA.  In 1982, there were 6,046 MMPA members in who marketed a total of 3.4 billion pounds of milk, while in 1967 membership totaled 7,973 and marketed 2.6 billion pounds of milk. Today, MMPA has approximately 1,200 members and marketed over 4.8 billion pounds of milk in the 2016 fiscal year.

MMPA—established in 1916—is a member owned and operated dairy cooperative serving approximately 2,000 dairy farmers in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin.

35-Year Members

  • Kenneth Vredenburg, Alma Local
  • Albern Olson, Alma Local
  • Nelson E. Frye, Constantine Local
  • Gary Zuiderveen, Evart Local
  • Louis & Karen Fifelski, Kalamazoo Local
  • Jeanne Drummond, Mid-Michigan Local
  • Raymond Zimmerman, Mid-Sanilac Local
  • Richard Kaufman, Mid-Thumb Local
  • William Gruppen, West Michigan Local
  • Robert Gruppen, West Michigan Local
  • Dennis Raterink, West Michigan Local

50-Year Members

  • Larry Crandall, Barry-Eaton Local
  • Robert Lee, Evart Local
  • William Stein, Evart Local
  • Larry L. Keinath, Frankenmuth Local
  • Ronald N. Keinath, Frankenmuth Local
  • Petzold Dairy Farms Inc., Frankenmuth Local
  • MSU Dairy Farm, Ingham County Local
  • Thomas Goodman, Mid-Michigan Local
  • David J. Lee, Mid-Sanilac Local
  • Harland Schultz, Mid-Sanilac Local
  • Leonard Schaub, Upstate Local
  • Darwin Huff, West Michigan Local

More about the Annual Meeting

MMPA Hosts 101st Annual State Delegate Meeting

LANSING, Mich.—The 101st Annual State Delegate Meeting of the Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) was held on March 23 at the Lansing Center in Lansing, Michigan.

Ken Nobis, MMPA president, presented The Kroger Co. of Michigan with an inaugural Valued Partner Award and announced the donation of 150 gallons of milk per day for an entire year to the Food Bank Council of Michigan. The donation recognizes the 50th anniversary of Kroger’s Michigan Dairy plant in Livonia, Michigan and builds off last year’s donation in recognition of MMPA’s 100th anniversary.

Nobis also addressed the approximately 450 attendees with his speech covering the current issues facing the dairy industry following two “volatile” years.  “One thing is stable in our dairy world, and that is our co-op, Michigan Milk Producers Association.  Your co-op is financially strong.  Your board of directors is made up of 13 dedicated dairy farmers who are feeling the same anxiety that you feel and are always searching high and low for answers that will help us all,” he reassured members.

MMPA General Manager Joe Diglio demonstrated the co-op’s value proposition, offering reassurance to members about the vision and actions of MMPA.

“The dairy industry has always been subjected to volatility and unpredictability, however it is how we deal with them that will define us and how we move towards our vision. We have strong connections and brand loyalty that positions us well for the future,” Diglio explained. “We cannot rest on our previous successes alone, we must continue to share our message with others and provide our customers with a safe reliable food source that makes them successful as well.”

MMPA Treasurer Eric Frahm presented the financial status of the cooperative, reporting a net savings in fiscal year 2016 of approximately $6 million.

Business conducted by the delegates included the adoption of the 2017 MMPA resolutions and election of Mark Iciek of Gladwin and Kris Wardin of St. Johns to the board of directors in three-year, at-large positions.

Nobis recognized 11 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. Twelve individuals were recognized with this award and were presented with a plaque at the meeting.

MMPA Board Member Corby Werth introduced the 2016 Top 10 Outstanding Young Dairy Cooperators (OYDC) at the meeting, including Darrin and Barbara Siemen, of Harbor Beach, Michigan, who were officially recognized as MMPA’s 2016 OYDC.

Dean Letter, director of member services, and Joe Packard, member representative, presented Koppenol Dairy Farm of Coopersville, Michigan with the highest quality milk production award. The Koppenols achieved the best quality records in 2016 among MMPA’s 1,200 farms. Along with a plaque from MMPA, the Koppenols received a $250 gift certificate for the MMPA Merchandise Program from Ecolab.

Michigan Milk Producers Association is a member owned and controlled milk-marketing cooperative serving over 2,000 dairy farmers in Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio.

More about the Annual Meeting

Regina Kopera, Site Leader of the Kroger Michigan Dairy and Rachel Hurst, Consumer Affairs Manager of The Kroger Co. of Michigan accepted the Valued Partner Award at the MMPA 101st Annual State Delegate Meeting on March 23 from Carl Rasch, Director of Milk Sales at MMPA and Ken Nobis, President of MMPA.

LANSING, Mich.—MMPA today honored The Kroger Co. of Michigan with the inaugural Valued Partner Award at MMPA’s 101st Annual State Delegate Meeting. In conjunction with the award, MMPA announced the donation of 150 gallons of milk per day for one year—a total of 54,750 gallons— to recognize the 50th anniversary of Kroger’s Michigan Dairy plant.

“MMPA is proud to honor The Kroger Co. of Michigan today with our inaugural ‘Valued Partner’ award,” Ken Nobis, president of MMPA. “It is not just the supplier-customer relationship between MMPA and Kroger that is key, it is our shared values on joint initiatives that makes us proud to work with Kroger. From youth development programs to dairy promotion to crisis response, Kroger has stood by our side for 50 years and counting.”

MMPA dairy farms have supplied the Kroger’s Michigan Dairy plant in Livonia, Michigan since it first opened in 1967 and the two organizations have sustained a partnership that extends into a variety of initiatives. Annually, Kroger welcomes a group of youth on MMPA’s 4-H Milk Marketing Tour to the Michigan Dairy plant to help the students learn more about the dairy supply chain.

MMPA and Kroger have also partnered in dairy promotion programs through the “Pure Michigan” campaign and in-store promotions featuring MMPA farms.

Last year, MMPA and The Kroger Co. of Michigan partnered on a milk donation initiative to support Flint, Michigan residents following the Flint Water Crisis. The Pediatric Public Health Initiative lists nutrition as one of the evidence-based interventions that will optimize the outcomes. Dairy is one of the foods encouraged for families to mitigate lead absorption and so MMPA and Kroger worked together to bring over 24,000 gallons of 2% milk to families in Flint in 2016.

“Throughout the Michigan Dairy’s 50-year history, we are grateful for our relationship with MMPA and its dairy farmer members to produce quality products for our Kroger stores. The Kroger Co. of Michigan is honored to be recognized for this award today and proud to support the 150 gallon per day for one year milk donation,” Regina Kopera, site leader of the Michigan Dairy, said.

At the 100th Annual State Delegate Meeting last year, MMPA announced a donation of 100 gallons of milk per day for one year to the Food Bank Council of Michigan. “The 100 gallon per day donation in recognition of MMPA’s 100th Anniversary was so successful and well received that our board of directors voted to repeat it this year and add 50 gallons per day donation in recognition of Michigan Dairy’s 50th Anniversary,” Nobis added.

The milk donation of 54,750 gallons announced today will be contributed to the Food Bank Council of Michigan and distributed to their regional food banks which serve all 83 Michigan counties.  Processing and packaging of over 18,000 gallons of the donation will be provided by the Michigan Dairy plant in Livonia.

Kroger is recognizing the Michigan Dairy’s 50th anniversary this year with an event this August and in-store promotions on its dairy products.

The announcements of the Valued Partner Award and the donation were made at MMPA’s 101st Annual Meeting in Lansing, Michigan. Approximately 400 members and guests gathered at the meeting today to discuss dairy exports, recognize members, adopt policy resolutions and elect board members.


About Michigan Milk Producers Association:

The Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) is a dairy farmer owned cooperative founded in 1916. MMPA serves approximately 2,000 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 butter, non-fat dry milk, whole milk powder, cream and condensed skim milk.


About The Kroger Co. of Michigan:

The Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR) is one of the world’s largest grocery retailers and the nation’s largest operator of traditional grocery stores, with fiscal 2016 sales of $115.3 billion.  Kroger  employs more than 443,000 associates who serve customers in almost 3,000 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 35 states and the District of Columbia under two dozen local banner names including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry’s, Harris Teeter, Jay C, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith’s.  The company also operates 784 convenience stores, 319 fine jewelry stores, 1,445 supermarket fuel centers and 38 food processing plants in the United States.   Recognized by Forbes as the most generous company in America, Kroger supports hunger relief, breast cancer awareness, the military and their families, and more than 30,000 schools and grassroots organizations. Kroger contributes food and funds equal to 276 million meals a year through more than 100 Feeding America food bank partners. A leader in supplier diversity, Kroger is a proud member of the Billion Dollar Roundtable and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber’s Million Dollar Club.

Incorporated in Michigan in 1909 and headquartered in Novi, The Kroger Co. of Michigan includes 19,000 associates, 126 Kroger stores, 75 fuel centers, 104 pharmacies and the Michigan Dairy.


More about the Annual Meeting


It was 1919 and the third largest industry in the United States was dairy and the newly formed Michigan Milk Producers Association was getting ready for their third annual meeting to be held in East Lansing at the Michigan Agricultural College.

The announcement of the meeting began with this:

Our vision of the battle front must change. It is not only with the local market, but it is in the halls of the Legislature and Congress.  We must forget that we are members of any political party; we must remember we are to protect the interests of our business and our homes with our voice and our vote.

This meeting was on the heels of the arrest of several Ohio dairymen who refused to sell their milk for under the cost of production.  They were arrested late at night, taken to a Cleveland jail and not allowed bond or a phone call. The crime for which they were indicted was simply that they refused collectively to sell the product of their labor for less than the cost of production. And this was not an isolated case, according to the 1919 Michigan Milk Messenger, this was happening coast to coast.

The program for the 1919 annual meeting included discussion of how the government should interact with an organized dairy industry, the problems that had cropped up in Ohio and the President of the National Holstein Friesian Association, D.D. Aitken, was slated to speak on collective bargaining and legislation needed in Michigan.

Clearly the early growing pains of a newly formed milk cooperative were being felt while dairymen from around the state were gaining a voice in marketing their milk. And when the annual meeting commenced there was a showing of over 650 people in attendance with every county in central and southern Michigan being represented.  Members wanted an active role in the association and visibly showed their desire to be heard.

The keynote of every address according to the Michigan Milk Messenger was a patriotic devotion to the well-being of the nation and a desire to stabilize food production so that in the years to come farmers ‘shall be able to supply the necessary food that will give physical and mental strength to this and coming generations.’

The 1930s arrived and milk consumption dropped like a rock.  Not only were they not drinking milk but consumers began using the new butter substitute: Oleo. With depressed commodity prices, farmers were struggling. Non MMPA members were selling their milk to markets below the cost of production and this was forcing the MMPA sales committee to sell milk at this cut-rate price as well. Being on the sales committee was a tough job through these years but the economy didn’t stop members from participating in the business of their cooperative.  The annual meeting in 1931 was well attended and President N.P. Hull didn’t pull any punches. He concluded his meeting address by saying:

“I have tried to lay before you the absolute truth of the situation as it prevails at the present time. These are dreadful times, but we are going to come out of them. Let us be wise and prayerful and try to bring agriculture out of these times in the best way we can and in doing that we will have done our duty as men, and that is all that angels can do.”

The optimistic attitude that initiated the cooperative in 1916 continued to drive the organization through the Great Depression and World War II.  Farmers were charged with the task of producing more and more food for a hungry world at war—and they did. While the young men left the farm to go to war, the families were left behind to expand the farm and increase production.  But post-war concerns surrounded how to use up the expanded milk production. Once again the membership showed up at their annual meeting and heard this from President Ivan Maystead:

“We are told that farmers will not stick together. The Michigan Milk Producers Association, entering the 30th year of its existence, gives the lie to this statement. True, the association has a constructive program and renders services, but the loyalty and support of its members are the backbone of its existence. Your continued loyalty and support will assure another 30 years of success.”

And it did.

By the 1950s, dairy farming was no longer a way of life but a business and the members of the cooperative wanted more out of their association.  Farmers knew how their milk was marketed but they wanted to know more about what the inner workings of the cooperative.  While MMPA was created as a bargaining association, it had expanded to become the owner of manufacturing plants, receiving stations and transportation facilities.

In 1959 milk marketed by the association, reached a new high of 2.3 billion pounds valued at about $95.5 million dollars. Production per member was up over 64 percent in the previous five years. The following year the annual meeting garnered nearly record attendance and President Jack Barns informed attendees that MMPA had achieved new records in practically every field in which it was active. Milk numbers were up three percent from the year before and the average dollar returns per member rose 7.5 percent. The following month milk hit $5.30/cwt, the highest in three years.

Through the 60s, 70s and 80s, milk plants were purchased, sold or closed.  Milk promotion exploded and milk marketing continued an ebb and flow in efforts to keep farmers profitable. The early 90s brought about a drastic drop in milk prices but increased a resiliency to continue through the difficult days.

Prices would fluctuate, but the dedication of the members to the association and the leaders to the members would continue to grind out a cooperative that would survive into a new millennium and on to celebrate 100 years of business.

Wars, the Depression, bank failures, consolidation, PBB, breaking up of the Superpool, skyrocketing interest rates, soaring commodity prices and the greatest homeland terrorist attack to date would not shake up a membership from meeting every year, without fail to conduct its business.

Dairymen met in 1916 on the campus of Michigan Agricultural College and on March 24, 2016, they will meet again just a few miles west of Michigan State University to ensure a stable, reliable and advantageous market necessary for producer profitability and required to continue to feed a hungry world.