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Annual Meeting Spotlights Dairy Farmer Unity

December 6, 2023

NMPF Chairman Randy Mooney commended U.S. dairy farmers for their persistence in supporting positive change for their industry at the organization’s annual meeting in Orlando held Nov. 13-15, noting that challenges are nothing new to producers and that their unity has brought progress toward better federal farm policy.

“We’re nourishing families around the world through milk’s unbeatable nutritional value,” said Mooney in remarks at the meeting held jointly by NMPF, the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board and the United Dairy Industry Association. “I’ve dairied for a long time, through good times and bad times, but there’s never been a time that I haven’t laid my head down on my pillow at night and been proud of what I accomplished on my farm,” said Mooney, a Dairy Farmers of America member-owner who farms near Rogersville, MO.

Dairy producers in the past year have faced operating margins at their lowest since the federal dairy safety net was adopted in its current structure in 2014 as prices plummeted from record highs. Meanwhile, the U.S. farm bill expired at the end of September before Congress passed an extension until next October, and dairy farmers are seeking a fairer milk pricing system through a USDA-led Federal Milk Marketing Order hearing.

Following Mooney onstage was NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern, who is retiring at the end of this year after leading the organization for a decade. Mulhern reflected on the challenges dairy farmers have met and how they will meet the challenges to come.

“I’ve tried to remain true to what I see as the hallmark of the dairy community: people who work hard, approach things with common sense, care passionately about the product they produce,” Mulhern said. “You all strive to do the right thing. And I can tell you, looking over the course of my career, those are qualities that can take you a very long way.”

Also at the meeting, NMPF’s Board of Directors approved the organization’s policy positions and elected new members. New directors elected to the Board of Directors and approved by NMPF delegates include Brad Bateman of Dairy Farmers of America and Rick Burkhamer of Foremost Farms. Burkhamer, who farms near Richland Center, WI, was also named to NMPF’s Executive Committee. Pete Kappelman of Land O’Lakes, a member of the Executive Committee, was elected Treasurer to replace retiring Board member Dave Scheevel of Foremost Farms. The members awarded Honorary Directors for Life recognition to Brian Hardy and Rick Smith of DFA, and Joe Wright of Southeast Milk.

The meeting drew roughly 750 attendees and also featured breakout sessions on industry topics as well as the Dairy Experience, an exhibit and snacks area featuring industry vendors and dairy products.