The Cooperatives Working Together program begins its third year of operations with participation from nearly 75 percent of the nation’s milk supply.

Two cooperatives – Southeast Milk Inc., in Florida, and Bongards Creameries in Minnesota – joined CWT’s ranks. The addition of the two cooperatives means farmers who market 73.1 percent of America’s milk output now contribute 5 cents per hundredweight to CWT.  That money will be used to help strengthen and stabilize farm-level milk prices through a combination of dairy herd removals, and cheese and butter exports.

“We’re seeing that more people want to join the program and help us do bigger and better things as CWT moves forward,” said Walt Wosje, chief operating officer of CWT.  “The obvious success of CWT is bringing more cooperatives and more of our milk supply into our membership, which means we can have more leverage in the marketplace.”

CWT has enjoyed a solid increase in membership since it began operations in July 2003.  More dairy cooperatives have joined each of the past two years, with a total of 48 now contributing to the program, along with hundreds of individual dairy farmers.

Wosje said that with the start of CWT’s third fiscal year in July, CWT is now engaged in an outreach campaign to build on its membership base.  

“We are using a combination of advertising and direct outreach to farmers, and their cooperatives, to solicit their support.   Often we find that the best salesmen for this effort are fellow farmers who believe that CWT has helped their milk check, and want their neighbors to get involved as well,” Wosje said.

Since CWT began, farm-level milk prices have been consistently above historic averages, reaching record-high prices last spring.  In the past two years, CWT has removed approximately 1.7 billion pounds of milk through a combination of two herd-retirement programs, periodic exports of cheese and a reduced milk production program.

Earlier this summer, CWT’s committee decided that the program’s activities will remain focused on both reducing cow numbers and boosting exports of manufactured dairy products. 

Anyone interested in joining CWT may call (888) 463-6298, or write to Cooperatives Working Together, 2101 Wilson Blvd, Suite 400, Arlington, VA, 22201.

For more on CWT’s activities, visit www.cwt.coop

NMPF, CWT