FAIRLAWN, Ohio — Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) is a milk marketing cooperative and food company dedicated to providing a secure market for member milk and to making available services that help members produce high-quality milk.
The cooperative offers over-order premiums, including quality premiums. Experienced field representatives are available to help producers improve milk quality and better understand the benefits and services available to them as members.
Forward contacting is offered and a variety of other risk management tools. Through a variety of partners, DFA offers low-margin farm supplies, financial services, health and workers’ comp insurance, business, expansion and succession planning, as well as environmental consulting.
Eastern Lab Services also offers a wide variety of milk testing to help members increase milk quality and improve herd health. Interest-free loans for are offered for some system improvements (replacing bulk tanks, purchasing generators, well drilling and water treatment) that can significantly impact milk quality and farm efficiency.
Dairy Farmers of America was formed in 1998, by the merger of four large regional cooperatives. The most prevalent in this area was Milk Marketing Incorporated. Since the merger, several other cooperatives have chosen to become part of DFA.
Despite a shrinking number of dairy farmers, DFA has consistently marketed about a third of the U.S. milk supply. The Mideast Area is headquartered at an office in Fairlawn, Ohio, and serves over 2,000 member farms in Ohio, western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, and Michigan.
These members produce a more than 4.6 billion pounds of milk a year.
Nationally, Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. is a dairy marketing cooperative that serves and is owned by more than 18,000 dairy farmers in 48 states. DFA is one of the country’s most diversified manufacturers of dairy products, food components and ingredients, and is a leader in formulating and packaging shelf-stable dairy products.
At the national level, DFA recorded record sales and made significant operational and financial progress in 2007.
The new management team, headed by CEO Rick Smith, is bringing greater discipline to operations, divesting the cooperative of plants that do not make money and introducing new initiatives designed to carry it successfully into the future.
DFA is successful because it recognizes the importance of bringing value to members. This happens through a competitive pay price, but also through the wide array of business opportunities and services available to members.
An expanded array of services is now available to Mideast Area members. In the last four years, members have started ordering farm supplies from Eagle Dairy Direct, consulting Dragun Environmental Services on environmental issues and Greg Squires on succession and expansion planning, and funding operating and expansion plans through Agri-Max Financial.
Eastern Lab Services now tests four quality samples a month, as well as component and somatic cell count testing for every pick up.
DFA can credit its strong farmer leadership for much of its success. Over 140 farmers hold positions of leadership in the Mideast Area. They have been elected by their fellow members to give direction to the cooperative and help shape its policy.
All dairy farmers, including DFA members, have been affected by high fuel and input costs. While milk prices have also been higher than traditional levels, the increases have not kept pace with those input costs.
DFA helps members control those input costs by offering access to Eagle Dairy Direct and Grainger buying program. DFA also works to help members manage increased market volatility through its risk management programs.
It is widely recognized that the number of dairy farms is decreasing. Even so, in the Mideast Area, DFA is proud that over the last four years, it has welcomed more than four new member farms for each farm that left to go to another market.
The cooperative hopes to continue that growth by adding new benefits and services and helping members use those already available to them.
Dairy Farmers of America can be reached at 3737 Embassy Parkway, Suite 300, Fairlawn, OH 44333-8379
or call 800-837-6776. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.dfamilk.com.
The office is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; field service is available 24 hours a day.