Dairy farmer-owners review cooperative performance at annual meeting
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (March 26, 2018) – The ability to respond to climbing demand resulted in record cheese production and contributed to earnings of $15.1 million for Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI) in 2017. Delegates are reviewing sales growth and investments at the annual business meeting of the cooperative owned by 2,000 Upper Midwest dairy farmers.
“Rising milk production on AMPI member farms allowed us to increase cheese production in sync with our customers’ needs,” Donn DeVelder, AMPI co-president and CEO, told some 300 annual meeting attendees gathered at the DoubleTree Hotel in Bloomington, Minn. “At AMPI, we know cheese. It’s what we do. Total cheese production — natural and processed — reached a record 659 million pounds and accounted for nearly 60 percent of the cooperative’s sales last year.”
As cheese consumption continues to climb in the U.S., AMPI is methodically increasing its processing capacity to fulfill orders from foodservice and retail customers. A state-of-the-art expansion of the co-op’s Sanborn, Iowa, plant was among the 2017 projects.
“We’re making strategic investments that allow us to make more cheese from every pound of milk produced on member farms,” said Sheryl Meshke, co-president and CEO. “As a result, our customers are wrapping their brands around more sticks, chunks, shreds and slices of AMPI cheese. As consumers crave more cheese, we will be the farmer-owned cooperative that delivers.”
AMPI-made cheese continues to be among the industry’s best, tallying first-place wins in national and international competitions. Delivering quality, locally sourced cheese gives AMPI a competitive edge in the marketplace, added Meshke.
“Today’s consumers want to know where their cheese comes from,” she said. “We can pinpoint the family farms, the cheesemakers and the rural communities that benefit.”
In his address to fellow AMPI owners, AMPI Chairman of the Board Steve Schlangen assured that AMPI is advocating on members’ behalf for an improved federal dairy safety net program.
“At AMPI, we don’t just talk about policy, we do something about it,” said the dairy farmer from Albany, Minn. “We have built a reputation as a trusted and respected voice for Midwest dairy farmers.”
The AMPI annual meeting culminates with delegates considering resolutions and reviewing the cooperative’s legislative priorities for the coming year.
AMPI is headquartered in New Ulm, Minn., and owned by dairy farm families from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota. AMPI members marketed 5.7 billion pounds of milk, resulting in $1.7 billion in sales for the cooperative in 2017.
AMPI owns 10 Midwest-based manufacturing plants where 10 percent of the nation’s American-type cheese, butter and dried whey is produced. The cooperative’s award-winning cheese, butter and powdered dairy products are marketed to foodservice, retail and food ingredient customers.