Paying respect to the contributions its farmer-owners make to the global marketplace, Dairy Farmers of America's 15th Annual Meeting explored the diverse ways the Cooperative and dairy industry are preparing for the future. Nearly 1,500 members and guests convened in Kansas City for the event this week.
For generations, DFA members have been feeding the nation, and now, as the Cooperative expands its footprint in the global marketplace, the world. During the meeting, speakers discussed how DFA and the industry are strengthening their position in the global marketplace to create a stronger and more innovative Cooperative for generations to come.
"As a national milk marketing cooperative, DFA is delivering its members' high-quality milk around the globe through dairy ingredients, its own branded products and those of its customers," said Randy Mooney, chairman of DFA's Board of Directors. "From this land, we are all making a difference. Members are producing nature's most perfect food. From our plants and our customers' plants, that milk is being processed into cheese, butter, ice cream, yogurt, ingredients and more. Through that process, we are feeding the world."
The meeting kicked off with the chairman's report, delivered by Mooney, who operates a dairy in Rogersville, Mo. He focused on the steps DFA has taken to seize opportunities in the global marketplace, as well as its strategy to capture these prospects in the future. Mooney also discussed issues, such as animal activism, that are affecting farmers every day at home.
An overview of the Cooperative's business was delivered by President and Chief Executive Officer Rick Smith. His report also explored how the Cooperative has evolved during the past several years and highlighted ongoing efforts to better serve and provide value to its members.
"As a dairy farmer-owned Cooperative, our mission is to bring value to members," Smith said. "One way to do this is to participate in value-added opportunities for dairy, both domestically and globally. This supports our goal and obligation to help feed people around the world, and meet the unmet demand for healthy and nutritious dairy products worldwide."
Special guests and additional highlights of the meeting program included:
A panel discussion, "World of Opportunity," featuring Tom Suber, president, U.S. Dairy Export Council; Jay Waldvogel, senior vice president of strategy and international development, DFA; and Larry Jensen, president, Leprino Foods
"Feeding 9 Billion People - Maintaining the Planet," a presentation by Jason Clay, senior vice president of market transformation, World Wildlife Fund
An update on National Milk Producers Federation's work for the dairy industry by Jerry Kozak, president and chief executive officer
An overview of the latest dairy promotion activities by Tom Gallagher, chief executive officer of Dairy Management Inc.
The Cooperative's Annual Banquet brought a host of recognitions, including the 2013 Members of Distinction - one member farm from each of DFA's seven regional Areas that is excelling on their operations, in their communities and in the industry.
The 2013 Members of Distinction are: Krause Holsteins Inc., Buffalo, Minn.; Ayers Farms, Perrysville, Ohio; J.R. Hall Farms, Rigby, Idaho; Piper Farm LLC, Embden, Maine; Huffard Dairy Farms, Crockett, Va.; Bentwood Dairy, Waco, Texas; and Van Warmerdam Dairy, Galt, Calif.
In addition, outgoing Board directors were recognized for their contributions to DFA during the Cooperative's Annual Banquet. They are Mickey Childers, Somerville, Ala., Southeast Area; Larry Frederick, Baring, Mo., Central Area; Lew Gardner, Galeton, Pa., Northeast Area; Les Hardesty, Greeley, Colo., Mountain Area; Pete Mensonides, Turlock, Calif., Western Area; Ellis Roberts, Preston, Idaho, Mountain Area; and Rob Wonderlich, Ollie, Iowa, Central Area.
Winners of the 2013 DFA Cares Foundation Scholarship were announced at the banquet. Scholarships are awarded to outstanding students pursuing a career in the dairy industry. This year's 29 recipients will receive a combined total of $28,000 toward their undergraduate and graduate level studies.
Also at the banquet, guests learned about the new Be More Employee Recognition Program, which encourages employees to demonstrate DFA's core values and reinforce the meaning of "More Cooperative." The inaugural group of 11 Be More Award winners was honored among their peers and the Cooperative's farmer leadership.
Each year the Annual Meeting concludes with the Resolutions process, which brings together 250 elected delegates from across the nation to vote on a slate of issues that guide the policy position and business activities of the Cooperative for the coming year.