Les Hardesty, a Greeley, Colo., dairy farmer and member of the Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. (DFA) Board of Directors, was elected chairman of the National Dairy Board (NDB). He is serving his second three-year term on the board and was twice elected vice chairman.

Hardesty, who also is chairman of DFA’s Mountain Area Council, has been a DFA member since its inception and owns and milks 700-cows on two farms situated on 305 acres. He was elected to serve a one-year term as chairman of the National Dairy Board and will have the opportunity to be elected chairman for an additional one-year term. He succeeded NDB Chairman Charles “Woody” Bryant, an Arkansas dairy producer and DFA Board member.

The 36-member NDB, formed in May 1984 under the authority of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, carries out coordinated promotion and research programs. NDB and the United Dairy Industry Association comprise Dairy Management Inc, which oversee the national dairy checkoff program. Farmers’ contributions to the program support marketing and advertising campaigns, education programs, and product ingredient and nutrition research that help build demand for U.S. milk and dairy products.

Hardesty is enthusiastic about the strategic direction the board is pursuing for the dairy checkoff program. Perhaps best known in the past for its image advertising, Hardesty says the checkoff is now more focused on leveraging funds to increase dairy sales by meeting consumers’ unmet demands.

For instance, today’s school children are consuming more milk thanks to funding from the dairy checkoff program. The New Look of School Milk campaign is offering single-serve milk in plastic containers – as opposed to paper cartons – in more flavors and at colder temperatures. The program is reaching school children at almost 6,000 schools. “By giving our consumers what they want, when they want it and in a convenient package we are building lifelong consumers of dairy,” Hardesty says.

Hardesty adds that partnerships with companies, like Pizza Hut, are another important avenue NDB is using to leverage promotion dollars. “Value-added products such as lactose-reduced dairy products, cheeses made for the Hispanic market and nutrient-enhanced yogurts are examples of ways we are adding value to your checkoff program,” he says.

“The dairy checkoff has unified and focused us like never before,” Hardesty adds. “The opportunity is there to keep that unity, realizing that NDB represents every dairy farmer in these states. And the most important thing is that we have a new strategic direction that is sales driven.”

Dairy Farmers of America press release