By Paul Olson
In recognition of June Dairy Month, I would like to dedicate this issue of the National Farmers Magazine to the dairy industry and especially our own dairy department and all of our producers and staff that are devoted to producing and marketing excellent quality milk to help fill the needs of the consuming public.
I just returned from a March 29 trip to the Northeast accompanied by National Farmers Dairy Division Director Brad Rach and our National Milk Sales Coordinator Dick Bylsma. We attended a very uplifting and successful series of meetings in Cortland, New York, and surrounding areas with member-producers.
I was extremely impressed by the new Cortland office and the professionalism of our staff members there. It was obvious staff members are problem-solvers and collectively work together for the betterment of National Farmers producers.
Approximately five years ago, this region was completely turned upside down by major changes in how milk was marketed there. Because of changing conditions, National Farmers was forced to find our own markets, establish new truck routes and secure our own office facilities.
Our loyal producers and dedicated staff were up to the challenge. With unwavering support from Organic Valley and Wisconsin’s NAFCOR, who provided staff vehicles, this is now our largest and fastest growing dairy region in the country.
While Brad, Dick and I were in Cortland, we had a very successful meeting with one of our major buyers in the region, and were accompanied by the president of Finger Lakes Cooperative, a business partner.
The following day, we had the privilege to meet with the entire Finger Lakes board of directors and discuss plans for the future and what National Farmers can do for the co-op regarding marketing their milk. Finger Lakes Cooperative has about 200 producers and are a wonderful group to work with.
Our meetings revealed to me just how well our staff have developed new relationships with several buyers and producer groups such as Maple Hill, Byrne Dairy, Stonyfield, Upstate, Horizon and the Small Farmer Group. At the end of the day, it’s all about producers working together for the collective good of all.
This was also an opportunity to present the National Dairy Procurement Awards. Our staff, pictured at right, certainly earned these awards. Congratulations to all!
In closing, I just want to thank our producers and staff for everything they continue to do through these challenging times of rising costs and volatile markets.
As we watch the news in Ukraine, it constantly reminds us of just how fragile democracy and our worlds’ food supply truly is. Ukraine is called the bread basket of Europe and we are all witnessing what happens when that is disrupted and, worse yet, destroyed. We must never take democracy and food security for granted.