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Young Cooperators, Dairy Voice Network Add Volume

September 6, 2023

NMPF communications staff continued to develop and serve the next generation of dairy-farmer leadership through its National Young Cooperators (YC) program and its latest group of dairy-farmer spokespersons through the Dairy Voice Network.

In addition to quarterly webinars that focused on finding work-life balance on the farm, NMPF’s FMMO modernization efforts and disaster preparedness and management, the program for the first time this year provided a forum for cooperative staff 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 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.

YCs also met this year in Washington, D.C. for the program’s Dairy Policy and Legislative Forum. 49 dairy farmers from 21 states and representing ten member cooperatives participated in the two-day event, which included discussions about political engagement and dairy policy issues, along with training on how to be an effective advocate and spokesperson for dairy. YCs then headed to Capitol Hill to speak with members of Congress and their staffs about NMPF priorities.

Immediately following the fly-in, work began on the next group of dairy farmers selected by their cooperatives to participate in the Dairy Voice Network (DVN), first launched in 2021 with 18 media-trained farmers selected to represent dairy for outside media audiences and other public-facing experiences. Six farmers from four cooperatives were represented, participating in mock interviews and media training workshops. With the addition of the latest group, 10 cooperatives participate in the DVN, featuring farmers of all size and business models in all regions of the country.