March 22, 2013 == Members of the nation’s largest dairy cooperative, Dairy Farmers of America, gathered in Kansas City this week for their 15th annual meeting. DairyBusiness Update’s Dave Natzke was there, and joined us on Friday’s Dairyline to discuss the meeting that dealt with some of DFA’s past, and how it plans to write some new history:
“This week’s DFA annual meeting, attended by 1,500 members and guests, was both a celebration of productivity, sprinkled with some “mea culpa” for some past activities.
Last year was a strong financial year for the co-op, with record earnings and cash flow, built on net sales of more than $12 billion. The co-op marketed about 61 billion lbs. of member and non-member milk, about 30% of the U.S. total. The average milk price paid by the co-op was $18.49 per hundredweight, down about $2 from 2011’s record high.
Offsetting the positive side of the financial ledger was a $216 million charge related to lawsuits involving the co-op, most related to activities nearly a decade old. As we’ve covered in the past, earlier this year DFA settled a lawsuit in a class-action lawsuit in the southeastern U.S., for $159 million. And, this week, DFA was expected to settle a lawsuit regarding Chicago Mercantile Exchange cheese trading practices in 2004, for $46 million.
Looking forward, DFA leaders said the co-op’s business partnerships and joint ventures were profitable for a fourth consecutive year. And, the co-op is positioning itself to be a bigger part of global dairy markets, which currently account for about 8-10% of DFA’s commercial business. Dairy processing plants in Portales, New Mexico, Fort Worth, Colorado, and a new plant scheduled to come online this fall in Fallon, Nevada, will enable the co-op to produce dairy ingredients and products in high demand outside the United States.”