History & Timeline

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

  • Dec 10, 2019


    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


    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


    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


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

  • Dec 10, 2019


    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


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

  • Dec 10, 2019


    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


    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


    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


    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


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

  • Dec 10, 2019


    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


    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


    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


    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


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

  • Dec 10, 2019


    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


    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


    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


    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


    Minnesota Milk contract economist and University of Minnesota professor Dr. Marin Bozic previews a project in the works with the Minnesota Milk board for their feedback, to allow for revenue protection in the dairy industry. In February 2018, the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation of USDA’s Risk Management Agency approves the Dairy Revenue Protection program, which quickly grows to be a risk management tool for over a quarter of milk nationwide.

  • Dec 10, 2019


    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.

  • Dec 10, 2019


    With reorganization at Midwest Dairy, the organization returns to three committees: Education, Membership and Policy.

  • Dec 10, 2019


    Minnesota Milk passes the DAIRI program through the legislature, the largest single state investment into the dairy industry in decades. The $8 million DAIRI program offered a $0.23/cwt rebate on 2019 milk production for dairy farmers that signed up for the new Federal Dairy Margin Coverage Program. With the pandemic of 2020-2021, the program paid for itself in increased signup over the national average, with Minnesota leading Dairy Margin Coverage participation amongst all major dairy states in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

  • Dec 10, 2019


    Minnesota Milk leads the way in battling against pandemic solutions that would have disadvantaged cheesemaking areas in partnership with Chairman of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee Collin Peterson. The partnership of Minnesota Milk, member cooperatives and other state trade associations, stops mandatory supply management, the convening a federal order hearing that would have disproportionately helped fluid markets and ensures recently obtained gains in Dairy Margin Coverage, Dairy Revenue Protection and LGM-Dairy did not count against forthcoming payments.

  • Dec 10, 2019


    Minnesota Milk’s board of directors elects the first female president in Shelly DePestel, Daley Farms of Lewiston.
  • Dec 10, 2019


    Minnesota Milk Producers Association and Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, one of the largest dairy co-ops in the country, jointly announced a new agreement to strengthen the two organizations’ work on behalf of their farmers.
  • 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
  • 2016-2020

    Dave Buck, Goodhue
  • 2020-present

    Shelly DePestel, Lewiston