New producer-oriented Ohio dairy group formed; membership growing

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SALEM, Ohio – Ohio dairy producers can look forward to increased state-level representation in legislation, regulation and education efforts since the former Progressive Dairy Producers of Ohio and the Ohio Dairy Farmers Federation merged.

The new group, called Ohio Dairy Producers, became official in July 2002.

“State-level functions drifted as [other organizations] merged to become Dairy Farmers of America. But the DFA focus is not on representing farmers on the state level,” said Tim Demland, executive director of the new group.

Dairy Farmers of America is a milk marketing cooperative headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., that includes the former Ohio-based Milk Marketing Inc.

Old groups. Prior to the merger, the Progressive Dairy Producers of Ohio focused on business management and educational activities for dairy producers.

The federation was an organization of dairy-related organizations, according to Demland, but had become less effective in political and regulatory issues because it lacked a hired staff.

Under the new setup, which aims to increase productivity and farm profit, farmer-members will have educational resources and legislative and regulatory representation bundled into a single membership.

Helping hand. To help get the organization off the ground, the COBA/Select Sires board of directors presented an endowed gift of $50,000 to Ohio State University during the Ohio Dairy Management Conference in mid-December.

Interest generated from the gift will be used to help fund the dairy industry enhancement position, according to COBA/Select Sires General Manager Bernie Heisner.

Demland is the current Ohio State University dairy industry enhancement extension associate.

“[Our] board of directors recognized this as a critical time in the group’s formation. They liked what they’ve seen done and wanted to do as much as they could to help,” Heisner said.

“And, as a cooperative, part of our responsibility is to be encouraging for measures that could help our members” and the dairy industry, he said.

Charter groups. COBA/Select Sires is one of the charter organizations. Others represented are Dairy Farmers of America; CRI/Genex; Ohio DHI; Ohio Guernsey Breeders; Ohio Jersey Breeders;

American Dairy Association and Dairy Council Mid East; Ohio State University; Ohio Department of Agriculture; Ohio Farm Bureau Federation; and Ohio Livestock Coalition.

Membership. Membership is also open to dairy organizations and allied industries. Farmers can join for $50 per farm.

From farmer-members, 10 directors will be elected from five statewide regions, Demland said.

Remaining seats on the 24-member board will be filled by organizations, with the stipulation that the majority of the board must be producers.

According to Demland, membership signups “seem to be on track to exceed” early projections.

“Our goal is to bring dairy producers together to learn from each other and develop business skills and networks.

“We’ll provide those resources that all dairymen need to make management decisions, too,” Demland said.

Overcome hurdles. But the group will have to overcome hurdles carried over from its predecessors: The federation was typically viewed as old and nonresponsive, and the progressive group was seen as representing large farms out for themselves, Demland said.

“But this will overcome both. We’re addressing geography, size and marketing preferences and working for all those producers,” he said.

For more information or membership materials, call Demland at 419-523-6294; e-mail demland.2@osu.edu or mail him at 219 S. Oak Street, P.O. Box 189, Ottawa OH 45875.

(You can contact Andrea Myers at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at amyers@farmanddairy.com.)

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