General Information and History
Midwest Dairy Association® represents 7,400 dairy farm families to 38 million consumers across 10 Midwestern states. We work on behalf of dairy farmers to increase dairy sales, foster innovation and inspire consumer confidence in dairy products and practices.
Midwest Dairy Council®, an affiliate of National Dairy Council, is the nutrition education division of Midwest Dairy Association. The Council is dedicated to dairy nutrition research and education through the investment of 7,400 dairy farm families across 10 Midwestern states, and is committed to child health and wellness through our collaborative program, Fuel Up to Play 60.
Midwest Dairy weaves through 100 years of dairy history. Farmers in Iowa, Missouri and eastern Kansas formed Midland Dairy Association in 1971. Their counterparts in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota combined their state promotional organizations in 1993, forming the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council of the Upper Midwest. These two larger organizations joined forces in 2000, forming the Midwest Dairy Association and adding dairy farmers and territory in Arkansas, western Kansas and eastern Oklahoma. The American Dairy Association of Illinois joined Midwest Dairy a year later. The American Dairy Association/Dairy Council of Nebraska became part of Midwest Dairy Association in 2011.
Midwest Dairy Quick Facts:
- We represent 7,400 dairy farm families to 38 million consumers in 10 Midwest states, including Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma.
- Midwest Dairy Association is a part of Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), yet focused on Midwest industry priorities. DMI is the domestic and international planning and management organization that builds demand for dairy products on behalf of America’s 42,000 dairy farmers.
- Midwest Dairy Council is an affiliate of the National Dairy Council, which has been dedicated to nutrition research, education and communication since 1915.
- There are 26 billion pounds of milk produced annually in our 10 states. That is 12 percent of total U.S. milk production.
- Dairy farmers in the Midwest invest 15 cents for every 100 pounds of milk they sell. Midwest Dairy receives 10 cents of this mandatory funding for regional programs. The remaining five cents goes to the National Dairy Board to fund national promotional, research and export programs carried out by Dairy Management Inc.
- Midwest Dairy is directed by a 34-member dairy farmer Corporate Board with 13 of those members serving on Dairy Management Inc.’s national board.
- We have 66 staff, including 17 registered dietitians and other specialized experts, across 10 states from North Dakota to Arkansas.
- Our farmer-funded programs do not represent specific brands or dairy cooperatives, and we do not participate in regulatory activities or influence government policy.
Funding and Governance
Dairy farmers in the Midwest invest 15 cents for every 100 pounds of milk they sell. Midwest Dairy Association® (Midwest Dairy) receives 10 cents of this mandatory funding for regional programs. The remaining five cents goes to the National Dairy Board (NDB) to fund national promotional, research and export programs.
Many states enacted checkoff laws in the 1960s, setting a mandatory contribution for all dairy farmers. These laws increased funding for promotional programs and equalized contributions based on production levels. A national checkoff took effect in 1984, and remains in place today. Farmers contribute 15 cents per hundred pounds of milk to promotion and nutrition education programs. The national checkoff also provides funds to explore new markets for surplus dairy products from the United States.
The board of directors, consisting of dairy farmers from throughout the region, governs the activities of Midwest Dairy. Board members are selected to division boards first, and then may be elected to the Corporate Board. Some of these representatives also serve on the board of Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), allowing local input on the development of national promotion programs. All board members represent their fellow producers in directing how funds are allocated.
Lucas Lentsch is the CEO of Midwest Dairy Association. Lentsch’s upbringing on a family dairy farm and his background in agriculture root him to an industry he is committed to serving.
Allen Merrill, of Merrill Farms, Inc. in Parker, South Dakota, is the chairman of Midwest Dairy Association. He farms with his father and son, and together they milk 150 head of cattle, raise Holstein steers and grow corn, soybeans, alfalfa and oats.