History & Timeline

Since 1977, Minnesota Milk Producers Association has been the grassroots organization for Minnesota's dairy industry.

Over 40 Years of Advancing Dairy Farm Success

Presidents of Minnesota Milk

Over 40 Years of Advancing Dairy Farm Success

  • Dec 10, 2019

    1977

    Red River Valley Milk Pool, Moorhead, Minn., disbands to form Minnesota Milk Producers Association. Membership is $0.01 per hundredweight. Original filing is provided to the state of Minnesota on February 4, 1977.

    First Minnesota Milk Producers Dairy Convention held at the Detroit Lakes Holiday Inn on December 9–10, 1977. Ladies program was a style show by Voelker Dance Studios and The Corner. Michael F. Hutjens spoke on dairy nutrition, Ellis Davison on membership expansion, and the University of Minnesota’s Ed Fredericks was the banquet keynote speaker after milking. A four-farmer panel on support for the United Dairy Industry Association (checkoff) was held the next day, followed by elections.

  • Dec 10, 2019

    1981

    First ever Cheese Days held at Minnesota State Capitol. Dairy Day at the Capitol will complete its 37th yearly iteration in 2018.

  • Dec 10, 2019

    1982

    Membership reduced to $1 per cow or $0.005 per hundredweight as Association withers. Several board members try to give assets (about $30,000) to Minnesota American Dairy Association. Organization dissolves.

  • Dec 10, 2019

    1983

    After legal action, remaining board members concur dissolution was illegal, and restart the organization.

  • Dec 10, 2019

    1987

    Minnesota Milk has 7,300 members stretching from Iowa to Canada (at a time when Minnesota had just over 20,000 dairy farms)

  • Dec 10, 2019

    1989

    Minnesota Milk begins providing stipend to each Princess Kay contestant, a practice that continues today.

  • Dec 10, 2019

    1990

    Minnesota Milk enters into a lawsuit about Class I milk pricing against the United States Department of Agriculture, southern and northeastern cooperatives, and the National Farmers Organization. The Minnesota and Wisconsin state departments of agriculture join the suit, and the case is handled by the Farmer’s Legal Action Group.

  • Dec 10, 2019

    1992

    A federal district court rules in favor of USDA in the Class I milk pricing lawsuit. Later, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals awards an appeal to Minnesota Milk on the case.

  • Dec 10, 2019

    1994

    Minnesota Milk’s board of directors took no position on rBST. On May 11, 1994, Minnesota allows those processors not using rBGH to label their products as such.

  • Dec 10, 2019

    1998

    The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals issues a stay on the Class I Differential lawsuit, allowing FMMOs to continue current practices.

    Milk is named as Minnesota’s state drink.

  • Dec 10, 2019

    2000

    Minnesota Milk hires first full-time staff, Bob Lefebvre, as Membership Coordinator.

  • Dec 10, 2019

    2001

    Minnesota Milk develops an Environmental Quality Assurance Program with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the top-tier of which achieve Five-Star Dairy status. Farms were evaluated in Water Quality, Odor and Air Quality, Soil Quality and Nutrient Management, Habitat Quality and Diversity, and Community Image. By 2003, 105 farms were evaluated with 52 achieving FIVE-STAR DAIRY status. During the first two years the program utilized $245,000 in state funding and identified $345,000 in projects completed after the farm reviews.

  • Dec 10, 2019

    2003

    Minnesota Milk annual meeting combines with Stearns County’s annual Dairy Expo to create “Minnesota’s Dairy Conference.” After 21 years, the board of directors returns membership to the original membership fee of $2/cow or $0.01 per hundredweight.

  • Dec 10, 2019

    2005

    The Dairy Investment Tax Credit initiative supported by Minnesota Milk is pulled from the final tax bill at the last minute in a disappointing legislative loss. The bill returns in 2008 as the Livestock Investment Grant, helping fund projects and transfer ownership in all of animal agriculture to the tune of millions of dollars per session.

  • Dec 10, 2019

    2006

    A Dairy Connections Program begins, pairing those entering the dairy industry with established dairy farmers or professionals. This program continues today as the Minnesota Milk Mentorship program, with a partnership with Ridgewater College as part of class requirements, but open to other college students as well.

    Also in 2006, Minnesota Milk’s committee structure is created, emphasizing Policy, Education, and Membership as pillars of the organization.

  • Dec 10, 2019

    2007

    Minnesota Milk begins a Political Action Committee to provide contributions directly to politicians.

  • Dec 10, 2019

    2009–2011

    Minnesota budget shortfalls lead to Minnesota Milk digging in heels to hang on to its long-sought programs like the Livestock Investment Grant, Minnesota Dairy Initiatives Program and Cost-Share program with the Board of Water and Soil Resources. The dairy economy is at its lowest point, likely ever, so these programs provide a big impact to many Minnesota dairy farms.

  • Dec 10, 2019

    2011

    Minnesota Milk works to oppose supply management at the federal level, as Midwestern Dairies begin growing again when the Western industry faces challenges of water, wages, and regulation.

  • Dec 10, 2019

    2012

    Minnesota Milk enters into an agreement with Midwest Dairy to share their Executive Director position. After much deliberation with the state’s checkoff promotion organization, Executive Director Bob Lefebvre sees the opportunity to share information and a closer relationship with Midwest Dairy.

  • Dec 10, 2019

    2014

    All staffing, accounting, information technology, human resources, and communications is transferred to Midwest Dairy. The contract for services maintains Minnesota Milk’s full-time equivalent staff, ensures all Minnesota Milk raised dollars are used for the trade association, eliminates duplication with checkoff programs, and allows Minnesota Milk access to top-notch technology, legal, and communications support.

  • Dec 10, 2019

    2017

    Lucas Sjostrom is promoted to Executive Director. With a new president and Executive Director, the farmer leadership conduct a strategic plan involving their 50 board and committee members. The new plan results in four committees, Education, Events, Membership/Communications, and Policy, with a promise to enhance use of technology and input from those not on the board or committees.

    After 14 years, the Minnesota Milk Dairy Conference and Expo moves to Red Wing, with a pledge to continue moving the event around the state.

Presidents of Minnesota Milk

  • 1977–1980

    Ervin Vanek, East Grand Fork

  • 1981–1982

    Leroy Klovstad, Pelican Rapids

  • 1983–1988

    Norman Glawe, Detroit Lakes

  • 1988–1989

    Marlon Restad, Pelican Rapids

  • 1989–1994

    Bill Dropik, Nelson

  • 1994–1999

    Lee Johnston, Swanville

  • 1999–2003

    Delbert Mandelko, Preston

  • 2003–2007

    George Bakeberg, Waverly

  • 2007–2016

    Pat Lunemann, Clarissa

  • 2016–Present

    Dave Buck, Goodhue