Midwest dairy co-op members approve merger
Members of Family Dairies USA, Manitowoc Milk Producers Cooperative and Milwaukee Cooperative Milk Producers voted to merge the three cooperatives, creating the largest dairy marketing cooperative in the Midwest. The new, combined cooperative, known as FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative, will begin business function as a unified entity on Jan. 1, 2013.
Votes on the merger were counted Dec. 18. The membership vote follows a unanimous board vote to recommend the unified merger for the membership and several information-sharing opportunities this fall.
“Today, our members made history,” said Dennis Donohue, general manager of Manitowoc Milk Producers Cooperative. “This membership vote to merge the three cooperatives affirms our members’ goals for industry success through collaboration. Collectively, the strength of our three organizations becomes one unified and powerful voice.”
“This is an exciting moment for our members,” said David Cooper, general manager of Family Dairies USA. “This membership vote is the first step in achieving benefits in efficiency and a stronger voice for our members.”
“We are excited for the future of FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative,” added Jim Bird, general manager of Milwaukee Cooperative Milk Producers. “Under this new cooperative, our members will see benefits in brand value and marketing opportunities. This vote is a win for our members and the dairy industry.”
Under FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative, the combined member representation will be divided into a total of nine districts, based on membership within each district. The current directors from each of the three cooperatives will transition into the new organization, helping ensure consistency in leadership and membership voice. Dennis Donohue will assume the role of general manager of FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative. David Cooper and Jim Bird will assume the roles of assistant general manager and director of lab services and special projects, respectively.
Family Dairies USA Milk Program and the Fox Valley Quality Control Laboratory will continue to operate as subsidiaries of the new cooperative.
Details on FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative will be distributed to all cooperative members through upcoming correspondence.
Family Dairies USA, based in Madison, Wis., is a grassroots, non-partisan, regional dairy co-op organization dedicated to bring fairness and equity to its family farm members in dairy policy matters and to provide excellence in dairy marketing services at reasonable prices. Family Dairies represents approximately 2,300 farms.
Manitowoc Milk Producers Cooperative, based in Manitowoc, Wis., was established in 1933 and represents more than 2,650 farms. The cooperative provides required Federal Milk Marketing Order services to members and is co-owner of a milk quality testing laboratory for components, cultures and somatic cell counts.
Milwaukee Cooperative Milk Producers, based in Brookfield, Wis., represents approximately 500 farms, providing insurance alternatives to dairy producers. Together with Manitowoc Milk Producers Cooperative, they co-own Fox Valley Quality Control Laboratory in Neenah, Wis. The cooperative was established in 1916.