Dairy farmers today have dramatically different scales of production, technological capabilities, and global pressures than they did generations ago. But in 1950, like today, industry leaders recognized the value of developing and educating young farmers, and the importance of meeting their needs when developing national policies.
That’s why the farmer and cooperative leaders of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) formed the National Young Cooperators (YC) Program over 72 years ago, and it motivates the program’s work today.
The YC mission of providing producers who are newer to dairy farming with educational opportunities to help make them more profitable, resilient business owners, and more effective, influential advocates is more important than ever. For those reasons and more, the program is more active than ever, providing year-round learning opportunities to producers through monthly webinars and three in-person events each year.
As we begin June Dairy Month, YCs are meeting for their capstone event in Washington, D.C., with 45 dairy farmers from 15 states across the U.S. participating in the program’s annual Dairy Policy and Legislative Forum. The two-day event will include discussions about political engagement and dairy policy issues, along with training on how to be an effective advocate and spokesperson for dairy. Participants will then head to Capitol Hill to meet with their members of Congress and those staffs.
NMPF’s effectiveness on dairy priorities in Congress depends heavily on grassroots engagement. With fewer people directly involved in dairy than even a couple of decades ago, dairy farmers must continue to punch above their weight to maintain relevance in an increasingly urban Congress. The National YC Program equips them to do just that, providing opportunities to learn background information about the many issues affecting the industry, and empowering them to become—and stay—politically engaged.
The National YC Program is open to younger and beginning dairy farmers who own or are employed on a dairy farm that is a member of one of NMPF’s member cooperatives.
The program’s webinar series is open to all eligible dairy farmers and industry affiliates and available at no cost. The 45-minute webinars, each covering a different topic, are held every month. Recent topics include transition planning, onboarding, employee retention, risk management, and an economic outlook.
In addition to the Dairy Policy and Legislative Forum that is currently underway, NMPF also offers YCs two other in-person opportunities annually. The program will host a workshop and reception at World Dairy Expo on October 6 in Madison, Wis. Later that month, it will hold its annual Leadership and Development Program October 23 to 24 in Denver, Colo.
Click here and check the National YC Program box to stay up to date on program activities and contact your cooperative to learn more about the program and how you can be involved.