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Michigan dairy producers vote to continue Grade A marketing

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan dairy producers have approved a referendum to continue the Michigan Dairy Market Program for Grade A milk.

The marketing program was established in 1983 to increase consumer awareness and promote the sale of milk and milk products within Michigan. The referendum on whether to continue the Grade A checkoff was conducted by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). The vote ran from Oct. 2-13.

The program will continue for another five years beginning Jan. 1, 2018. The current program assessment is 15 cents per cwt. of Grade A milk, as defined. Ten cents of the assessment stays in Michigan for statewide promotion, with the other 5 cents going toward the national Grade A program.

A total of 386 ballots were cast in the referendum; of those, 345 voted yes, or 89 percent, and these represented about 3.4 million pounds, or 91 percent of the production volume represented. Forty-one producers voted no, or 11 percent; these represented about 344,000 pounds, or 9 percent, of the production volume.

For renewal of the program and its activities, more than 50 percent of the voting producers, representing more than 50 percent of the pounds by those voting, must approve it.

The United Dairy Industry of Michigan (UDIM) is the only organization in the state eligible to receive checkoff funds for the purpose of dairy marketing, said UDIM CEO Sharon Toth. “We’re very honored that our Michigan dairy farmers have chosen to renew the dairy marketing program for another five years,” she said. “We will continue to work to grow trust and to grow sales.

“We have strong programs in schools, in nutrition, and we also promote overall wellness in the schools. We also work very hard to teach consumers about nutrition. We educate people about the goodness and nutritional value of dairy.”

The Michigan Dairy Market Program Committee administers the program under Michigan law, Act 232 of 1965. This governs all of the state’s checkoff programs. The committee’s executive director is Cheryl Schmandt who, according to her LinkedIn profile, is also director of credit and risk management at the Michigan Milk Producers Assoc. (MMPA).

MMPA members of the committee include Brian Preston of Quincy, Rodney Daniels of Whittemore, Heather Wing of Bellevue, Bryan Hull of Fenwick, Timothy Hood of Paw Paw, James Reid of Jeddo, Ken Nobis of St. Johns, Eric Frahm of Frankenmuth, Jeffrey Horning of Manchester and Corby Werth of Alpena.

Other committee members are Jamie Clover Adams, MDARD director; Wayne Rodgers of Caledonia, representing the Dairy Farmers of America; Dwight Nash of Elsie, representing the Independent Milk Cooperatives; and Peter Kleiman of Wilson, representing Michigan Farm Bureau.