In 2013, DFA broke ground on two new plants:
• a new cold process milk separation plant in Linwood, N.Y. The plant, which is scheduled to be completed later in 2014, will produce cream and skim milk for a range of regional customers, utilizing about 1 million lbs. of milk per day, with capacity to grow to 2 million lbs. per day.
• a dairy ingredient plant is currently under construction in Cass City, Mich., which will produce high-quality condensed whole and skim milk and cream. At completion plant will process up to 3 million lbs. of milk per day, supplied by DFA members in Michigan’s “Thumb” area.
Despite a national trend of declining fluid milk sales, Smith said DFA would continue to seek opportunities in value-added fluid milk processing, citing financial stress among a couple of large U.S. fluid milk processors who may be reducing their presence in the market.
“As a national milk marketing cooperative that is owned by dairy farmers across the nation, DFA is committed to bringing value to our members,” Smith said. “That means we are committed to innovation and success by operating first-rate commercial businesses and investing in elite dairy companies. We also want to provide on-farm services that make it easier and more profitable for our members to farm.”
Smith said the co-op is increasingly being questioned by retailers and customers regarding such issues as animal care, workers rights, sustainability, traceability and environmental issues, and are serving as educators and advocates for farmer members to bring reality to those discussions.
This year’s annual meeting theme — “Dedicated to Dairy” — addressed those questions, recognizing DFA’s members and their commitment to their cows, their operations, their communities and their families.
“One thing you learn very quickly in our business is that dairy farmers and their families are passionate about what they do. That they are indeed dedicated to dairy,” said Randy Mooney, chair of DFA’s board of directors and a Missouri dairy farmer. “As owners of our cooperative, (DFA member-owners) control our own destiny. We have choices. Together, we can move proactively to invest in our shared future, in new milk processing factories, in expanded dairy product lines, in exciting consumer brands, in growing overseas markets — all driven by our mission to deliver value to members.”