More than 20 years ago, farmers from four U.S. dairy cooperatives came together to form Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), with a strategic vision to establish the first national dairy cooperative with investments across the U.S. dairy supply chain.
As more than 1,600 people gathered in Kansas City for the Cooperative’s Annual Meeting from March 20-21, DFA is not only a leading Cooperative owned by family-farmers from across the U.S., but also the largest supplier of milk in the world and the fourth-largest global dairy foods company.
With this year’s meeting theme, “Real People, Real Dairy,” DFA is putting the spotlight on the foundation for the Cooperative’s success: its dairy farm families and their commitment to working hard every day to deliver real dairy to real families across the country and the world, which is why the DFA mark matters.
“Over the last 20 years, DFA has experienced tremendous success, and the Cooperative’s vision is truly becoming a reality with more than 40 processing plants across the country, a strong portfolio of branded dairy products and growing global investment strategies,” says Randy Mooney, chairman of DFA’s Board of Directors. “As we think about the next 20 years, our focus will continue to be on our farmer-members and investing in what makes sense for the greater good of not only the dairy industry, but also the global food industry.”
The meeting kicked off with the Chairman’s Report, delivered by Mooney, who operates a dairy farm in Rogersville, Mo. Mooney, who also serves as chairman of National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), talked about the importance of providing value to members and ultimately working together and building a Cooperative that will thrive and remain relevant for years to come.
An overview of DFA’s business was delivered by President and Chief Executive Officer Rick Smith. His presentation highlighted DFA’s financials for 2017 as well as updates on DFA’s commercial investments that provide a market for members’ milk through new and expanded plants. Investment highlights included: opening a satellite office in Singapore, building a joint venture cheese and whey facility in Michigan, along with Glanbia plc and Select Milk Producers, Inc., as well as investing in a state-of-the-art dairy ingredients plant in Garden City, Kan.
“Since DFA began twenty years ago, our primary focus has been about bringing value to our farmer-owner members and that still remains true today,” says Smith. “We continually strive to remain competitive in our core business of marketing members’ milk, while also looking to grow and expand our commercial investments, which not only deliver profits to our farmer-owners, but also help ensure DFA remains financially secure.”
Special guests and additional highlights of the meeting included:
- Siobhán Talbot, group managing director at Glanbia plc, discussing strategies for delivering better nutrition for every step of life’s journey
- Tim Brown, president and chief operating officer at Chobani, providing insights into the brand’s commitment to providing better food for more people
- An overview of the latest dairy promotion activities by Tom Gallagher, chief executive officer at Dairy Management Inc.
The Cooperative’s Annual Banquet brought a host of recognitions, including the 2018 Members of Distinction. Every year, family members at one farm from each of DFA’s seven regional Areas are recognized for service to their dairies, their families, communities and the industry.
In addition, outgoing Board of Directors Bill Herr of Greenwood, Wis., Chris Kraft of Fort Morgan, Colo., and Urban Mescher of Maria Stein, Ohio, were recognized for their contributions to DFA.
Winners of the 2018 DFA Cares Foundation Scholarship were announced at the banquet. DFA Cares scholarships are awarded to outstanding students pursuing a career in the dairy industry. This year, 45 recipients will receive a combined total of $57,000 toward their undergraduate and graduate studies.
DFA’s Annual Meeting concluded on Wednesday with the resolutions process, which brought together 250 elected delegates from across the nation to vote on a slate of issues that guide the policy position and business activities of DFA for the coming year.