DPA is a grassroots dairy farmer organization which utilizes producer assessments to purchase excess dairy products from the marketplace and donate them to humanitarian causes that do not displace existing sales. We currently have a wide, diverse group of members from 10 states and 31 different milk handlers. As such, DPA is focusing most of its current efforts on benefitting all its members by being a regular, active buyer in the daily cash-traded block cheddar cheese market, which serves as a point of price discovery for milk checks across the nation. When DPA funds allow and cheese prices are below a designated level, an ad is placed in the classifieds of the Cheese Reporter, an industry publication. This ad is worded to seek the purchase of 40,000 pound lots of block cheddar cheese at a posted price which is approximately 10 cents per pound over the current Chicago Mercantile Exchange price. This type of competition is healthy for the marketplace and brings brokers and plants to DPA instead of them dumping that cheese on the CME. Just 1 cent per pound price increase on the 40 pound block cheddar trades will return the producers 10 cents per hundred assessment. We work with various humanitarian food distribution organizations who stand ready to transport this cheese and distribute it to those in need.
DPA also has a group of members who have designated a portion of their assessments to be used to purchase whole milk powder for donation to overseas humanitarian efforts by Christian Aid Ministries. Using whole milk powder provides superior nutritional value while removing excess milk from the market in its entirety. For every semi load of whole milk powder we can purchase, six and half tanker-loads of raw milk are removed from the market.
DPA has no debt and hires no management. Our mission is straightforward and simple. Our dairy farmer board of directors makes the decisions on what projects to fund. This organization is streamlined and focused on removing product that burdens our milk price in a way that puts upward pressure on the dairy markets. DPA never takes possession of dairy products that are donated to the needy. It is the responsibility of the organization receiving our products to transport, refrigerate, repackage and distribute the products that we donate.
DPA is for all farmers, large and small, organic or conventional. DPA is for all milk handlers and processors. We are the dairy farmers’ and the dairy plants’ friend. We don’t restrict farm milk production or disrupt the flow of milk to the plant. We simply buy dairy products at the back door of the processing plant at a price that supports the farmer and causes competition for the surplus products.
We are currently working on our own voluntary country-of-origin label for dairy products. Our “Only USA Milk” label is currently being used on bottled milk. As luck (or maybe bad luck) would have it, Tom Olson was asked by Nasonville Dairy to go on a Food and Drug Administration spot check of dairy farms in his area on July 19, 2017. While spending time with Kevin Torgerson, Food and Drug Administration Officer and Brian Moyer, State Survey Officer, Dairy Pricing Association was brought up. These men were truly impressed with DPA’s mission. They were really on board with country of origin labeling because according to them no other country produces milk on farms that comes close to our level of cleanliness. They feel that as other countries ramp up dairy production, it will be important to have country of origin labeling in place. Here is the improved version of the Only USA Milk Certification Mark:
DPA members choose at what level to participate. A voting membership is assessed at 10 cents per hundredweight. However, other stackable options range from 2 to 32 cents per hundredweight. There are no contracts and all levels of membership are completely voluntary.
In my 36-plus years of dairy farming, this is the first time I have been able to take steps to ask a price for my production by creating competition in the marketplace. This is only possible because of the many other like-minded farmers that make up this organization. Farmers now have an opportunity to take back their markets in a systematic way that they actually control. The thinly-traded daily cash cheese markets are so sensitive that days with no trades can raise or lower the class 3 price, usually lower. These markets need more of the competition that will only be created by farmers who care about their future, not by corporate America who only cares about their profits.
Thomas L. Olson, President DPA
You are welcome to join dairy producers across the United States every Monday evening on the DPA Conference Call that is at 7:00 p.m. (Central Time). The Dial-in-Number is 712-775-7085 and PIN 459893#. If you are not able to join the call you can listen to a recording at your convenience by Dial-in-Number 712-775-7089 and PIN 459893#.
*If you have problems joining the call, use this back up number: 716-293-9797