Dairy Co-ops Joining Forces

Members of three long-running Wisconsin dairy cooperatives have decided to put their collective heads together. They’ve approved a merger of Family Dairies U-S-A in Madison, the Manitowoc Milk Producers, and the Milwaukee Cooperative Milk Producers. Starting January first, they’ll all be known as the Farm-First Dairy Co-op. Manitowoc general manager Dennis Donohue called it a “very historic day” for his group. He told the Brownfield Ag News Service that some members questioned whether bigger is better. But Donohue said he’s convinced the merger would improve the use of field staffers, and result in better services to the members. The newly-merged co-op will have 54-hundred members. Donohue says it’s easier to put together programs for that many producers than it is for the 500 Milwaukee Co-op members. Plans for the merger were first announced a month-and-a-half ago. The three co-ops will combine their boards at first, and will have 21 members. The panel will be reduced through attrition, and it’s expected to have nine members in three years. The three groups date back as far as 1916 – and the merger will create the third-largest milk cooperative in the nation. It’s expected to produce 13-billion pounds of milk a year in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, and the Dakotas.