Iowa Dairy Farmers to Lead National Young Cooperators Program in 2024

Iowa dairy farmers and Prairie Farms, Inc. member-owners Hannah and Matthew Lansing were elected by their peers to serve as chairpersons of the National Young Cooperators (YC) Program in 2024.

The pair will steer the program toward its mission by providing key information and making recommendations on topics and activities of interest to young dairy leaders, representing NMPF and the YC Program at events and meetings throughout the year and reporting progress to the NMPF Board of Directors.

Together with Hannah’s grandparents, Hannah and Matthew milk 1,100 cows and farm more than 5,000 acres at Blue Hyll Dairy in Clinton, IA. The Lansings say they are enthusiastic about the opportunity and look forward to “continuing to grow as individuals by learning from others and sharing ideas on how we can all work together to become better advocates for dairy while improving our operations,” Matthew Lansing said.

Ohio dairy farmer Karl Wedemeyer was elected to serve as vice chairperson Karl milks 200 Jerseys and farms 80 acres in partnership with his parents and brother at White Diamond Farm in La Rue, Ohio. He is a member-owner of Dairy Farmers of America, and currently serves on the cooperative’s area resolutions and corporate resolutions committees.

The National YC Program has provided training and leadership development opportunities to beginning dairy farmers for more than 70 years, with a mission to provide producers with the education, tools and resources they need to improve their leadership skills, profitability and resilience through year-round virtual and in-person programming. Click here to stay up to date on program activities.

NMPF Brings Together YC Coordinators for Inaugural Training

NMPF hosted its first-ever training of Young Cooperators (YC) Program coordinators March 21-22, bringing together staff from nine member cooperatives to share ideas and experiences, build community and brainstorm ways to boost the impact of beginning farmer programs at the cooperative and national levels.

The two-day hybrid meeting, hosted by Land O’Lakes Inc. at its Arden Hills, MN headquarters, also included representatives from USDA, Dairy Girl Network and the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives.

The training was filled with robust discussion on a variety of topics including relationship building and recruitment, communications and outreach, sponsorships, event planning and facilitating feedback and measuring success.

Supporting effective and robust cooperative-level programs by providing training and assistance to staff serving as points of contact for beginning dairy farmers is a core objective of NMPF’s National YC Program, first established in 1950.

Prairie Farms’ Lorilee Schultz Elected to Lead YC Program in 2023

Illinois dairy farmer Lorilee Schultz was elected chairperson of the National Young Cooperators (YC) Program Jan. 17 at the program’s biannual Advisory Council and Coordinators meeting. Schultz, a member-owner of Prairie Farms, Inc., manages Mil-R-Mor Farm, a 60-cow registered Holstein dairy in northern Illinois. Schultz will lead the YC Program and represent its interests to the NMPF Board of Directors in this role throughout 2023.

“We provide consumers with safe, high-quality, affordable and nutritionally dense dairy foods, while also contributing significantly to our local economies and being responsible stewards of our resources,” Schultz said. “There are challenges, but I am confident that dairy farmers—and young dairy farmers in particular—are willing and ready to do what we do best: go to work and tackle them head-on. I’ve been in the trenches on the farm 15 years; now I want to look beyond my own farm and do what I can to help strengthen our industry.”

Schultz has served in leadership roles with several industry and community organizations including the National Holstein Foundation and Midwest Dairy Association, but she credits her four brothers for giving her extensive experience “listening to all sides and bringing out the best ideas.” She enjoys dairy cattle judging and helping her nieces and nephews and the farm employees’ children show at their local dairy shows.

Justin and Hannah Watt, owners of Cedar Knoll Dairy LLC in Keymar, Maryland and members of Maryland and Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association, were elected to serve as vice chairpersons.

Established by NMPF in 1950, the National YC Program provides training and leadership development opportunities to dairy farmers under 45. The program aims to enhance producers’ leadership skills to make them more effective managers and more influential leaders through year-round in-person and virtual programming. Click here and subscribe and receive updates from the YC Program.

Young Cooperators Convene for Leadership & Development Program

In conjunction with NMPF’s annual meeting, more than 75 young dairy farmer leaders met in Las Vegas for the National Young Cooperators (YC) Leadership and Development Program. Producers from 13 member cooperatives participated in two days of professional development training Nov. 14-15. Offerings included:

  • A panel of dairy farmers discussing how they manage workforce challenges;
  • A session on managing stress and leading through adversity;
  • A discussion about bridging the “great divide” between on-farm practices and consumer perceptions;
  • A consumer panel focused on sustainability and animal care;
  • A conversation about communicating with the public about dairy; and
  • A deep dive into ecosystem service markets.

The National YC Program was created in 1950 to provide up-and-coming dairy leaders with a better understanding of issues facing farmers and their cooperatives. The event was sponsored by Farm Credit.

Between now and the program’s capstone Dairy Policy and Legislative Forum in June, the YC program will offer monthly, 45-minute virtual events alternating among dairy-focused webinars, virtual farm tours and industry leader panels. Employees and owners of dairy farms that are members of an NMPF member cooperative and under the age of 45, as well as co-op staff, are invited to participate.

FARM, YCs Boost NMPF Visibility at World Dairy Expo

NMPF’s National Dairy FARM Program and Young Cooperators (YC) Program joined industry stakeholders in Madison, Wisconsin Sept. 28-Oct. 2 for the 2021 World Dairy Expo. The annual event, which attracts over 50,000 attendees annually, serves as a forum for dairy producers, companies and organizations to come together to compete, and to exchange ideas, knowledge, technology and commerce.

The FARM Program hosted a panel lunch on Thursday, Sept. 30 in which 50 industry stakeholders, farmers and NMPF staff discussed the newest FARM initiatives, FARM Biosecurity and the Calf Care & Quality Assurance (CCQA). Miquela Hanselman, manager of regulatory affairs for NMPF, introduced the new FARM Biosecurity program area address producer’s biggest concerns in the biosecurity space. Kris Scheider, Wisconsin farmer and vice-chair of the FARM Farmer Advisory Council, talked about farmer involvement in the program and what biosecurity looks like on his farm.

“At the on-farm level we have our vaccines, we have animal identification, and we have two skid steers – one for pushing feed and the other for manure handling,” Scheider said. “There are all these steps we are taking and now were ready for Enhanced Biosecurity.”

Justin Potts, senior manager of Dairy 2025 at Land O’ Lakes talked about the customer concerns in the biosecurity space and how the organizations are approaching calf care considerations.

Josh White, executive director of producer education at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, explained why the CCQA program was developed and what is included within the standards. Dr. Jennifer Van Os, PhD animal welfare assistant professor and extension specialist at University of Wisconsin – Madison, answered questions about pressure points in the calf space and veterinary involvement in the CCQA program.

“We wanted to inform the CCQA recommendations with the latest scientific research and find any pain points within the calf space,” Van Os said. “Those were identified as special needs of calf raisers and animal husbandry.” The recording of the event is available on the FARM Program’s Facebook page.

The National YC Program sponsored a Dairy Cow Productivity Seminar Sept. 29 featuring NMPF’s Peter Vitaliano, Ph.D., vice president of economic policy and market research. And later that day, the program hosted an offsite reception and dinner, offering 30 YCs the opportunity to network with each other and to meet and ask the seminar speaker questions in an informal setting.