“Despite its name, the farm bill is not just about helping farmers,” President Obama told the small crowd invited for the signing. “Secretary Vilsack calls it a jobs bill, an innovation bill, an infrastructure bill, a research bill, a conservation bill. It’s like a Swiss Army knife.”
Obama said passage of the bill by Congress is a good sign they can get other work done. “We’ve got more work to do – to do immigration reform that will help farmers,” he said.
Commenting on the signing, Dairy Farmers of America Senior Vice President John Wilson said they were thankful for the new bill, “which replaces outdated dairy programs with an important risk management tool that will help the nation’s dairy farm families maintain financial stability.”
“We would like to thank our members, supporters in Congress and National Milk Producers Federation for their tireless pursuit of new dairy policy and a completed bill.
“The unified voice the dairy producer community expressed during this process is admirable, and while the final bill does not reflect the exact policy we had proposed, we achieved our goal of creating dairy policy that will better serve U.S. dairy farmers.”
During a special meeting in Syracuse, N.Y., members of Dairylea Cooperative Inc. approved the proposed merger with Dairy Farmers of America (DFA).
The merger will become official on April 1, and combines Dairylea’s Northeast-based 1,200 members with DFA’s 13,000 nationwide dairy farmer members.
The cooperatives have enjoyed a successful working relationship since DFA was formed in 1998. Working together, Dairylea and DFA have created efficiencies in milk assembly, transportation and marketing, as well as joint management of Farm Services and membership operations in the Northeast.
Although a national cooperative, DFA’s grassroots structure ensures the Cooperative’s Northeast Area Council will maintain local governance familiar to Dairylea members.
When the merger takes effect on April 1, Dairylea’s nearly 300 employees will become employees of DFA and continue to provide service to Northeast dairy farms out of the offices currently shared by both Cooperatives in Syracuse, N.Y.
“We didn’t wind up precisely where we wanted in terms of the dairy program, but the milk glass is more than half-full. The new farm bill replaces three outmoded programs intended to help farmers – but that often failed in that effort. In their place is a new, more modern, and more comprehensive margin protection program offering dairy producers a far better and more effective safety net. Because it is designed to protect against periods of both low milk prices as well as high feed costs, margin insurance is a better risk management tool to help farmers deal with the global volatility in commodity prices in the 21st century.”
Dairy Farmers of America Senior Vice President John Wilson says while they are disappointed the bill does not include the Dairy Security Act (DSA), they “encouraged the new bill replaces outdated dairy policy and includes a margin insurance program, similar to that in the DSA.”
Posted: October 16, 2013 at 6:17 pm
By News Editor
Dairylea Cooperative, Inc.’s Board of Directors has voted to merge with Dairy Farmers of America (DFA). DFA’s Board of Directors has endorsed the merger, which requires approval by Dairylea’s members, who will be asked to vote during a special meeting in February 2014.
Dairylea’s farmer Board of Directors spent the past three years in a comprehensive examination of how to best position Dairylea’s members for the future. This effort involved soliciting member input and guidance from the “2020 Group,” a committee formed in 2010 to gather ideas on generating value beyond the traditional cooperative structure. Among many topics, the group explored how to create market opportunities for its members that peer cooperatives with investments in processing are attaining.
“Ultimately, the Board determined merging with DFA, already a longtime partner in Dairy Marketing Services, would best complement Dairylea’s capabilities and resources, while securing flexibility and increasing value for our members,” Greg Wickham, Dairylea’s chief executive officer, said.
Since 2002, Dairylea has been a member cooperative of DFA, a national cooperative with a global footprint and expanding commercial investments in processing built around the same core values as Dairylea. The proposed merger will provide Dairylea members access to growing national and international milk markets, ongoing patronage dividends, tax benefits and other opportunities. Additionally, Dairylea members will become owners of — and enjoy the value-added returns from — the products, plants and partners that comprise DFA’s commercial division.
Conversely, the merger provides DFA members with long-standing customer relationships in the Northeast marketplace, enhanced Farm Services and expanded access to capital to facilitate strategic growth.
“In many ways, a merger with DFA is simply a continuation of the working relationship that Dairylea has forged with DFA during the past 12 years,” said Rick Smith, DFA president and chief executive officer.
Six seats will be added to DFA’s Board of Directors to represent expanded membership in the Northeast, and DFA’s Northeast Area Council will maintain local governance and a grassroots structure familiar to Dairylea members.
Posted: October 11, 2013 at 9:03 am
By News Editor
Dairy Farmers of America’s Board of Directors has issued $29.6 million in patronage earnings to the farmer members of the Cooperative.
This allocation, which equals 7.5 cents per hundredweight, was made to members who marketed their milk through DFA in 2012.
Patronage is the Cooperative’s way of sharing DFA’s earnings with its members. While at its core, DFA is a milk marketing cooperative, the earnings from its investments in plants and brands generate returns that allow members to share in the success of these value-added businesses.
“As a farmer-owned Cooperative, we continually seek opportunities to deliver value to our members,” said Randy Mooney, DFA Board chairman. “Annual patronage allocations are one way we demonstrate the value of members’ investment in the Cooperative that goes beyond milk marketing and other programs and services designed to help them operate efficiently and profitably.”
The amount of patronage a member receives each year is based on the amount of milk they marketed through the Cooperative.
In keeping with DFA’s base capital plan, all members will receive at least 20 percent of their earnings in cash, with the balance added to their capital accounts. Those who have achieved the established base capital level will receive 100 percent of their earnings in cash. Of the $29.6 million, $8.4 million was distributed in cash and the balance was allocated to members’ equity accounts.
Since the formation of DFA in 1998, more than $490 million in patronage earnings has been allocated to the Cooperative’s farmer owners.
Posted: September 26, 2013 at 7:13 pm
By News Editor
Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) has broke ground on an ingredient processing facility in Cass City, Mich.
The $40 million plant will serve a region where milk production is steadily outpacing local plant capacity. At completion next fall, the 33,000-square-foot plant will process up to 3 million pounds of fresh milk each day, which will be supplied by DFA member farms in the Michigan Thumb area. Initially, the plant will produce condensed whole and skim milk, as well as cream. A phased construction plan will allow for growth among current and future DFA members, and the potential to manufacture value-added demand products.
Numerous partner agencies contributed substantial support to the plant. The Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) approved a $500,000 Michigan Business Development Program grant and a $1 million Community Development Block Grant, while the Michigan Economic Development Corporation is contributing $300,000 in corporate funds. MSF also awarded Tuscola County and Cass City a new 15-year Agriculture Processing Renaissance Zone designation for the project.
The Village of Cass City also offered support by providing revenue bonding valued at approximately $6.7 million for a wastewater pretreatment system and public infrastructure improvements.
In addition to creating at least 25 full-time positions at the facility, increased employment opportunities are expected to occur on member farms and in agriculture support industries.
Posted: September 23, 2013 at 7:40 pm
By News Editor
Craigs Station Ventures has formed a partnership with Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) to build and supply a new cold milk separation facility in western New York.
The $12 million venture, dubbed Western New York Enterprises LLC, will open next fall alongside a new methane digester and large-scale milking operation at Noblehurst Farms in York. A 14,000 square-foot facility, powered by the digester, will use a pair of centrifugal separators to produce cream and low-fat, high-protein skim milk.
The Craig Road facility will process more than a million pounds of milk daily from the eight farmer investors of Craigs Station Ventures – Noblehurst and Lawnel Farms in York; Mulligan Farm and Coyne Farms in Avon; Baker Brook Dairy in Attica, McCormick Dairy Farms in Bliss, Southview Farm in Castile and Synergy LLC in Wyoming.
Together, the partnering farms milk more than 13,000 cows and produce more than 100,000 gallons milk each day.
Recognizing the significance young members have in the future of their cooperatives, Ted Sowle represented Dairy Farmers of America at the Northeast Cooperative Council’s Future Cooperative Leaders Conference this week in Batavia, N.Y.
The annual conference is comprised of cooperative members who show potential for leading a cooperative in the future through governance or management. The conference allows participants the opportunity to learn more about the cooperative business structure, as well as cooperative leadership and how a cooperative business builds value to the farm operation.
Sowle, assistant vice president of consumer marketing at DFA, served on a panel designed to highlight the importance of brand equity. DFA manufactures and markets several well-known, high-quality brands found in grocery stores throughout the country. Sowle’s primary responsibility is to ensure that DFA grows brand equity for each of the brands in the Cooperative’s portfolio.
Sowle discussed the various factors that comprise brand equity, such as brand awareness, a brand’s personality and most importantly, brand loyalty. Sowle also expressed the importance of allocating resources for new product development.
Joining Sowle on the panel were Karen Murphy of Farm Credit East, Ken Voelker of Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Inc. and Rob Smith of National Grape Cooperative Association.
Posted: June 23, 2013 at 10:49 am
By Cindy Zimmerman
Dairy Farmers of America was one of the groups that took part in a USDA forum on comprehensive immigration reform held Friday in Kansas City.
DFA Board Chairman Randy Mooney spoke at the event, telling the audience that current immigration policy is threatening access to quality, affordable food in this nation.
“Because of America’s farmers, we enjoy abundant, safe and affordable food in this country,” Mooney said. “In order to ensure that continues, we need Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. For the dairy industry – an industry where there is no such thing as a day off – there is no viable visa program to provide a legal, stable and knowledgeable workforce that ensures milk and other dairy products get into the dairy case, our lunch programs and more.”
Mooney emphasized that the need for qualified workers is an issue bigger than dairy, pointing to specialty crops such as lettuce, strawberries and apples that also require labor that is not desirable to domestic workers. Similarly, a shortage of workers affects crop farmers, directly for their own farms and for farmers who buy their product.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was the keynote speaker at the event, hosted at the American Royal building in Kansas City’s historic West Bottoms district. Former Kansas City mayor and current Congressman Emanuel Cleaver also voiced support for immigration policy reform. Additional participants in the event included the Agricultural Business Council of Kansas city; Kansas City Chamber of Commerce; Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform; and Kansas Business Coalition for Immigration Reform.
Dairy Farmers of America’s vice president of industry and legislative affairs, Jackie Klippenstein, served on the National Council of Farmer Cooperative’s (NCFC) immigration reform panel.
The panel, Our Nation’s Immigration System Needs Work: Co-op Perspectives on the Need for Reform, gave attendees an understanding of what immigration reform means for a diverse range of agricultural producers across the country. Joining Klippenstein on the panel were Rich Hudgins of California Canning Peach Association and Bob Smith of Farm Credit East. The session was moderated by Chuck Conner, president and chief executive officer of NCFC.
The NCFC panel was especially timely, as the Senate voted on cloture this week, signaling their commitment to moving forward S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013.
As a panelist, Klippenstein spoke in support of the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform proposal, which includes compromise language for the agriculture sector. S. 744 includes agricultural provisions that address current undocumented workers while creating two new types of farm worker visas — one for seasonal workers, and one that meets the needs of dairy producers for year-round help.
The Minnesota Safety Council has awarded a Governor’s Safety Award to Dairy Farmers of America for superior performance in workplace safety and health at the Cooperative’s Zumbrota, Minn. manufacturing plant. DFA received a Meritorious Achievement Award.
Since 1934, the annual Governor’s Safety Awards program has honored Minnesota employers with exceptional safety performance. Applicants are judged on several years of injury data as it compares with their industry’s national statistics, and on their progress in implementing a comprehensive safety program.
Winners are recognized at three levels: Meritorious Achievement Award, Outstanding Achievement Award and Award of Honor. As one of 143 Meritorious Achievement Award honorees, DFA has demonstrated incident rates that are better than the industry average for at least three years.
Dairy Farmers of America owned Southwest Cheese Co. LLC plant in Clovis, N.M. will soon undergo a $100 million expansion.
The expansion will allow for more production of curds and whey proteins, which are used in ice cream, processed cheese sauces and sports drinks and energy bars.
Southwest Cheese is one of the world’s largest cheese plants and produces thousands of pounds of Monterey Jack, cheddar, American and other varieties of cheese. Southwest Cheese processes more than 3.8 billion pounds of milk, and produces in excess of 388 million pounds of block cheese and 29.1 million pounds of whey protein powders each year.
In recognition of exceptional commitment to quality and customer service, employees at Dairy Farmers of America’s Schulenburg, Texas, facility have been awarded the PepsiCo North American Foods 2012 Service Award for Contract Manufacturing. The award recognizes the Schulenburg team as leaders among 41 contract manufacturing suppliers at 63 locations across the country.
The Schulenburg facility performed at or above target on all service metrics throughout 2012. Among key initiatives that earned this prestigious recognition was a flawless introduction of nine new products. This included gaining certification by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for these new products and managing complex capacity needs. During the transition, the team also flawlessly executed a new line installation and service for multi-packing Frito-Lay products.
The Schulenburg facility is one of five DFA Contract Manufacturing plants across the nation. Through the Contract Manufacturing Division, DFA develops and tests new food products for customers throughout the country.
DFA plants utilize state-of-the-art retort technology to make shelf-stable consumer products, including sport drinks, coffee-based flavored drinks, cheese powders and flavors, infant formula, sour cream and cheese dips for well-known brands.
At DFA’s state-of-the-art Innovation Center in Springfield, Mo., food scientists and engineers work closely with DFA customers as they develop and test new food products and create innovative packaging. In addition, flexible manufacturing capabilities allow DFA to produce products in packaging such as steel, aluminum, glass and plastic.
Dairy Farmers of America’s 15th Annual Meeting explored the diverse ways the Cooperative and dairy industry are preparing for the future.
The meeting kicked off with the chairman’s report, delivered by Randy Mooney, chairman of DFA’s Board of Directors, who operates a dairy in Rogersville, Mo. He focused on the steps DFA has taken to seize opportunities in the global marketplace, as well as its strategy to capture these prospects in the future. Mooney also discussed issues, such as animal activism, that are affecting farmers every day at home.
An overview of the Cooperative’s business was delivered by President and Chief Executive Officer Rick Smith. His report also explored how the Cooperative has evolved during the past several years and highlighted ongoing efforts to better serve and provide value to its members.
Special guests and additional highlights of the meeting program included:
· A panel discussion, “World of Opportunity,” featuring Tom Suber, president, U.S. Dairy Export Council; Jay Waldvogel, senior vice president of strategy and international development, DFA; and Larry Jensen, president, Leprino Foods
· “Feeding 9 Billion People — Maintaining the Planet,” a presentation by Jason Clay, senior vice president of market transformation, World Wildlife Fund
· An update on National Milk Producers Federation’s work for the dairy industry by Jerry Kozak, president and chief executive officer
· An overview of the latest dairy promotion activities by Tom Gallagher, chief executive officer of Dairy Management Inc.
The Cooperative’s Annual Banquet brought a host of recognitions, including the 2013 Members of Distinction — one member farm from each of DFA’s seven regional Areas that is excelling on their operations, in their communities and in the industry.
The 2013 Members of Distinction are: Krause Holsteins Inc., Buffalo, Minn.; Ayers Farms, Perrysville, Ohio; J.R. Hall Farms, Rigby, Idaho; Piper Farm LLC, Embden, Maine; Huffard Dairy Farms, Crockett, Va.; Bentwood Dairy, Waco, Texas; and Van Warmerdam Dairy, Galt, Calif.
In addition, outgoing Board directors were recognized for their contributions to DFA during the Cooperative’s Annual Banquet. They are Mickey Childers, Somerville, Ala., Southeast Area; Larry Frederick, Baring, Mo., Central Area; Lew Gardner, Galeton, Pa., Northeast Area; Les Hardesty, Greeley, Colo., Mountain Area; Pete Mensonides, Turlock, Calif., Western Area; Ellis Roberts, Preston, Idaho, Mountain Area; and Rob Wonderlich, Ollie, Iowa, Central Area.
Dairy Farmers of America has reached a settlement agreement in a portion of the class action lawsuit regarding DFA’s trading activity on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in 2004.
“Under the terms of the settlement with the class of direct purchasers of dairy products, filed this week,DFA makes no admission of wrongdoing and will pay $46 million to the plaintiff class.
“Our farmer leadership and management team have worked diligently to put certain old issues behind us and resolve pending litigation. Recently we were able to settle a class action lawsuit in the Southeast United States. Resolution of both of these lawsuits allows us to remove a source of distraction for our leadership and to avoid additional legal fees.
“The payment of the settlement will not affect the Cooperative’s day-to-day operations or its ability to market members’ milk and pay them a competitive price for that milk. Member milk checks and the member equity program will not be impacted.”
Posted: January 24, 2013 at 10:13 am
By News Editor
Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) have reached a settlement agreement in the class action lawsuit against DFA in the southeastern United States.
DFA makes no admission of wrongdoing in this settlement. Under the terms of the settlement, filed yesterday with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, DFA will pay $140 million to the plaintiff class. An additional, refundable $9.3 million per year for two years will be placed in a fund to incentivize stronger Class I utilization rates in Federal Orders 5 and 7.
Also included in the agreement are remedial elements regarding reporting, accounting and communication of certain business information and functions. Many of these components are consistent with new policies and procedures DFA management voluntarily developed and implemented previously to emphasize a culture of openness and transparency within the Cooperative.
“Our Board and management team have worked diligently to put certain old issues behind us,” said Rick Smith, president and chief executive officer. “This outcome positions DFA to fulfill a commitment to our members to resolve pending litigation, to remove a source of distraction for our leadership and to avoid additional legal fees.”
The payment of the settlement will not affect the Cooperative’s day-to-day operations or its ability to market members’ milk or pay them a competitive price for that milk. Member milk checks and the member equity program will not be impacted.
“The Cooperative remains healthy and poised for a bright future,” Smith said. “We continue to develop new member programs and invest in plants and new products. We also continue to seek out new opportunities and innovative ways to increase value to our dairy farmer owners.”
Posted: November 8, 2012 at 5:58 pm
By News Editor
Congratulations to Dairy Farmers of America’s (DFA) for having six of its cheese products earned recognition at the 2012 National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) Championship Cheese Contest in Orlando, Fla.
NMPF’s contest serves as a platform for cooperatives from across the country to showcase their top products and recognize the individuals who make them. The annual event was the first cheese competition that utilized grading standards to improve cheese quality, and to display such quality in a competitive forum. This year’s competition drew 176 entries, a record number.
Awards were presented for the following products:
· First Place, Soft Italian — DFA Mozzarella, New Wilmington, Pa.
· First Place, Open Class — La Vaquita Queso Panela, Houston, Texas
· Second Place, Soft Italian — DFA Provolone, New Wilmington, Pa.
· Second Place, Processed American Flavor — DFA White American Loaf with Pepper, West Middlesex, Pa.
· Third Place, Processed American Plain — DFA White American Loaf, West Middlesex, Pa.
· Third Place, Open Class — La Vaquita Queso Fresco Mexicano, Houston, Texas
Through Global Dairy Products Group (GDPG), DFA produces retail cheese and butter, foodservice cheese and butter and a wide range ofdairy protein ingredients. The Cooperative’s consumer brands include Borden® Cheese and Butter, Keller’s® Butter, Plugrá® Butter and Cache Valley® Cheese, among others. GDPG also is a leading contract manufacturer of shelf-stable products for national and international food companies.
USDA released the latest statistics today, showing that farmer, rancher and fishery cooperatives posted record sales of $213 billion and $5.4 billion in net income, surpassing the previous record sales year of 2008 by $10 billion while besting the old income record by $500 million.
“These new cooperative sales and income records for 2011 underscore the strength and productivity of the nation’s farmer- and rancher-owned cooperatives, and the vital role they play in the nation’s economy,” said Dallas Tonsager, under secretary for Rural Development. “Primarily because of mergers, the number of farm co-ops continued to decline, but memberships and asset values are up.” Tonsager also noted that co-op employment levels remained strong, with cooperatives employing 184,000 full-time, part-time and seasonal workers, up slightly from 2010.
USDA’s annual list of the nation’s 100 largest agricultural cooperatives, also released today, shows that they also had record sales and income in 2011. The 100 largest ag co-ops reported revenue of $148 billion in 2011, an increase of almost 30 percent over 2010, when revenue totaled $113 billion. Net income for the 100 top co-ops was $3.17 billion, up from $2.35 billion in 2010. The previous top 100 co-op records were $130 billion for sales and $2.42 billion for income, both marks set in 2008.
The top ten agricultural cooperatives include four dairy cooperatives. Dairy Farmers of America of Kansas City with $12.9 billion in revenue was number two on the list again, topping 2010 revenue by 20%. Ranking 6th on the list was California Dairies with $3.66 billion, up 20% from 2010. The 9th and 10th largest cooperatives were Northwest Dairy Association of Seattle and Associated Milk Producers of Minnesota, both with approximately $2 billion in revenue, up 30% and 20% respectively from 2010.
“On behalf of the 15,000 dairy farmer owners of Dairy Farmers of America, we urge Congressional leadership to support this nation’s food producers by acting on the 2012 Farm Bill and bringing some relief to farmers suffering through weather-related disasters and unfavorable market conditions.
“The pending bill represents significant compromise and fiscal discipline, while addressing the critical needs of the dairy industry. This dairy policy reform was developed through three years of work by visionary dairy farmers and national and regional farmer-led organizations. It acknowledges the desire for more robust risk management tools and eliminates outdated and costly government programs. This is a fiscally responsible program created by dairy farmers, for dairy farmers.
“Passage of the 2012 Farm Bill is vitally important to America’s dairy farmers. The dairy provisions contained in both the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill would provide dairy farmers better options to manage their risk and their future, while keeping the industry competitive in the global marketplace, and saving taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.
“We strongly urge House legislators to take action to protect the interests of the American farm families who are relying on them. Bring H.R. 6083 to the floor for a vote. Decisive action is critical to help dairy farmers avoid a repeat of the economic disaster of 2009 and to ensure a future for the industry.”
Posted: September 11, 2012 at 6:26 pm
By John Davis
Recess is over… and it’s time to get back to work. That’s the message members of the Dairy Farmers of America are sending to the U.S. House. Congress went on its August recess before a floor vote could be taken on the House’s version of the farm bill, H.R. 6083 – the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2012. A similar measure has already passed the Senate. In a letter from John Wilson, Senior Vice President of DFA, the group sent a petition with nearly 2,000 signatures to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) reminding him that the current bill expires soon:
“The 2008 authorization bill expires on September 30, 2012, and current domestic dairy programs do not provide farmers with the tools they need to weather extreme volatility in the global market. The bill pending before Congress represents significant compromise and fiscal discipline, and addresses critical needs of the dairy industry.
“Passage of the 2012 Farm Bill is vitally important to America’s dairy farmers. The dairy provisions in H.R. 6083 would provide dairy farmers with enhanced risk management tools, keep the industry competitive in the global marketplace, and save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. More importantly, this program will be critical in helping dairy farmers avoid the massive erosion of equity experienced in 2009.