Young Cooperators

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National Milk Producers Federation members and staff organized the National Young Cooperator (YC) Program in 1950. The purpose of the YC program was, and still is, to educate and build leadership ability in young dairy farmers. In order to develop this leadership, YCs must first gain a better understanding of the needs and problems facing milk marketing cooperatives. The result is educated, articulate young people who will provide the future direction for the dairy industry.

An educational program for young dairy producers is essential for the growth and advancement of the industry. Leadership development is encouraged and recognized at the local and national levels. Many current dairy industry leaders, including current NMPF Board members and a recent chairman, have participated in NMPF's YC program.

Several of NMPF's member dairy cooperatives sponsor YC programs. Representatives from each cooperative have the opportunity to participate in national YC activities. A YC fly-in is held every year in conjunction with NMPF's June Board of Directors meeting. YCs attend a legislative issues briefing and learn how to lobby their representatives on Capitol Hill. The national YC Leadership and Development Program is held in conjunction with NMPF's Annual Meeting in the fall and includes timely topics of interest to dairy farmers of all ages.

NMPF's YC program is designed for dairy producers 40 years of age and younger. No dairy farmer will be denied attendance at YC meetings due to age. However, to represent a member cooperative at a national YC event or serve as a national YC advisory council member, a young farmer may not have reached his or her 41st birthday by January 1st following the Annual Meeting. If running as a couple, the age requirement applies to the younger spouse.


YC Advisory Council

Every NMPF member cooperative with a recognized YC program is eligible to have at least one seat (couple or individual) on NMPF's YC Advisory Council. Additional seats are determined by YC attendance at the NMPF Annual Meeting. For every ten couples at the meeting, a member cooperative may have an additional seat on the council.

NMPF member cooperatives are responsible for selecting the YCs who will serve as their representatives on the YC Advisory Council. Each cooperative has its own way of choosing YCs for the council, just like they do for YCs who participate in the national YC program. Members of the council provide the leadership behind NMPF's YC program. At the national level, they have three principle duties:

  1. Attend a planning meeting the summer after the council's election to provide views on YC programming material for the upcoming NMPF Annual Meeting.
  2. Develop and oversee the YC program at the next NMPF Annual Meeting. This includes conducting registration, chairing sessions, introducing speakers, and other duties as required.
  3. Execute assignments as requested by the NMPF YC program coordinator.

Each new YC Advisory Council takes office at the end of the Annual Meeting.


2014 YC Advisory Council

Stuart & Jessica Ziehm, Chair
Agri-Mark, Inc.
Dustin & Lauralee Bliss
Dairylea Cooperative Inc.
Somula "Sam" Schwoeppe
Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc.
Johan & Trisha Heijkoop, Vice Chair
Southeast Milk, Inc.
Miguel & Fernanda Valadao
Land O'Lakes, Inc.
Andy & Jessica Schmitt
Swiss Valley Farms Company
Michael & Jordan Noll, Secretary
Michigan Milk Producers Association
Andrew & Nicole Jamison
MD & VA Milk Producers Coop.
Kelly Dugan & Shane Wilcox
United Dairymen of Arizona
Cody & Melissa Orton
Dairy Farmers of America, Inc.
Landon & Becky Van Dyk
Northwest Dairy Association
Chad & Jennifer Meyer
Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Inc.
Entee & Lacie Sublett
Dairy Farmers of America, Inc.


For questions about NMPF's YC program, please contact Sarah Olson by email or by calling 703-243-6111.