National Young Cooperators Program

Education and Development for Dairy’s Up-and-Coming Farmer Leaders

National Young Cooperators (YC) Program Logo

The National Young Cooperators (YC) Program, established in 1950, has provided training and leadership development opportunities to beginning dairy farmers for over 70 years. The National Milk Producers Federation, which manages the YC Program, represents the majority of U.S. dairy farmers and their cooperatives, making it uniquely positioned to reach its target audience through an existing network of member cooperatives and their farmer-owners.

The National YC Program aims to provide dairy farmers under the age of 45 with the education, tools and resources they need to improve their profitability and resilience through year-round in-person and virtual programming.

Specifically, the program aims to achieve the following objectives:

  • Enhance the leadership skills of beginning dairy farmers to make them more effective managers and more influential leaders.
  • Strengthen the resilience of beginning dairy farms by positively impacting farm and business management practices.
  • Support cooperative staff who serve as points of contact for beginning dairy farmers.

Leadership development is encouraged and recognized at the local and national levels. Many current dairy industry leaders, including some current NMPF board members, have participated in NMPF’s YC Program. Several of NMPF’s member cooperatives sponsor their own YC programs, but representatives from each cooperative have the opportunity to participate in national YC activities. Every June, a fly-in event is held in conjunction with NMPF’s June Board of Directors meeting. YCs learn about NMPF’s current policy priorities, attend a lobbying how-to event, and meet with their congressional representatives on Capitol Hill. In the fall, the national YC Leadership and Development Program is held in conjunction with NMPF’s Joint Annual Meeting.

Contact us at for more information or sign up here for updates from the YC Program

Opportunities for Involvement

The National YC Program hosts a several events throughout the year, including:

YC Dairy Policy & Legislative Forum

June 3-5, 2024 in Arlington, VA

The YC Dairy Policy & Legislative Forum brings together YCs from across the U.S. for a two-day event. The program includes discussions about political engagement and dairy policy issues, along with training on how to be an effective advocate and spokesperson for dairy. YCs then head to Capitol Hill to speak with members of Congress and their staffs about ongoing and emerging issues affecting the dairy industry. Here is the schedule of events from the 2023 event.

YCs at World Dairy Expo

Oct. 3, 2024 in Madison, WI

YCs will convene again in 2023 in Madison, Wisconsin for a workshop and reception, held annually in conjunction with World Dairy Expo. Here are details from the 2023 event.

YC Leadership & Development Program

Oct. 19-21, 2024 in Phoenix, AZ

YCs convene every fall for the YC Leadership & Development Program, held in conjunction with the NMPF/UDIA/NDB Joint Annual Meeting. The event focuses on developing leadership and management skills, as well as a variety of other topics determined by the YC Advisory Council that aim to enhance producers’ profitability and resilience. Here is the schedule of events from the 2023 event.



The National YC Program hosts quarterly webinars on topics of interest. While these webinars are determined by and geared toward YCs, all NMPF members are invited to participate. Recent topics covered include:

  • Women Leading Dairy: The Path Ahead
  • Management with Employee Retention, Satisfaction and Recruitment in Mind
  • Business and Financial IQ for Beginning Farmers
  • Finding Work-Life Balance on the Farm
  • What’s Next: An Update on NMPF’s FMMO Modernization Efforts

YC Advisory Council

The National YC Program is led by an advisory council that is composed of 15 beginning dairy farmers from across the U.S. Their input informs priority topics to be addressed at in-person and virtual events throughout the year. This group also provides regular guidance and feedback to refine and enhance program offerings to make them as relevant and accessible as possible. 2023 YC Advisory Council members include:

Hannah & Matthew Lansing
Prairie Farms

Karl Wedemeyer
Vice Chairperson
Dairy Farmers of America

Courtney Banach

Ryan Benthem
Michigan Milk Producers Association

Thomas French
Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association

Curtis Gomes

Luke & Megan Iverson
Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold)

Jeb & Heather Johnson
Southeast Milk

Denille Pingrey
Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Inc.

Nathan Wiese
Farm First Dairy Cooperative