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.