History of Western Dairy Association
Western Dairy Association is rich in history as it had its beginning in Denver, Colorado as the Denver Dairy Council. It was founded in 1936 and is an affiliate of the National Dairy Council, which was founded in 1915. The funding was provided by both the dairy farmers and milk processors.
The mission of the Denver Dairy Council was to educated school children about the benefits of consuming milk and many of the programs were aimed at children in the classroom and the school cafeteria.
After World War II and in the late 40’s the American Dairy Association (ADA) of Colorado was founded by dairy farmers for the purpose of promoting milk. One of the first promotion focuses was during June with “June is Dairy Month.” The Colorado American Dairy Association was a member of the national ADA, headquartered in Chicago. Colorado ADA bought promotional materials and helped fund national advertising programs. The focus of ADA promotional endeavors was restaurants and grocery stores as well as home delivered milk.
In the sixties, the ADA and Colorado Dairy Council had separate boards and staff. Mr. Howie Ryan was the manager of the Denver Dairy Farmer Milk Marketing Cooperative (CO-OP) in Colorado. Mr. Ryan helped develop a merger of the milk marketing CO-OP and promotion organization, under the dairy farmer leadership of Tom Camerlo, a dairy farmer from Florence and known as a global leader in the dairy industry. The promotion association was then located in the Denver Milk CO-OP office in downtown Denver.
The ADA of Colorado was doing more local promotions at the time; however, there was a movement to incorporate the ADA members in the mountain region into one organization. As the milk marketing cooperative’s merged in the late sixties and early seventies, it was the wish of the dairy farmer members to incorporate promotion and nutrition under one roof. And, in tandem with the national movement by dairy farmers to have ADA and NDC merge with the newly formed Dairy Research Inc. (DRINC), incorporating into one organization called the United Dairy Industry Association (UDIA).
More consolidation of the dairy organizations occurred in the late sixties and early seventies. The milk marketing CO-OP, Mountain Empire Dairymen’s Association (MEDA), under the management of Vern Bingham, also expanded. It was the wish of the dairy farmer leadership to change the Denver Dairy Council to Dairy Council of Colorado and ADA of Colorado to Goddess of the Rockies Milk Inc (GORMI). Later, it also incorporated Wyoming bringing both organizations under one roof with the leadership of Harvey Wilhelm and Ruth Bowling. GORMI was a member of UDIA. And as a member of UDIA, GORMI participated in national and local ADA/NDC/DRINC programs.
Then, in the early eighties, the milk marketing CO-OP MEDA continued to expand, as did the need for a broader, fully funded promotion association.
In 1980, the GORMI manager passed away and the board of directors, under the Greeley, dairy farmer leadership of William Wailes Sr., began a search for a person to continue to move the promotion organization forward. The board of directors hired Tom Jenkinson, a current employee of The California Milk Advisory Board, to move to Colorado and lead the company into the future.
In the early eighties, GORMI was re-named Western Dairyfarmers’ Promotion Association (WDPA) and Western Dairy Council (WDC) to better reflect the geographic area and purpose of its mission, covering the states of Colorado and Wyoming. As the oversupply of milk began to burden the dairy farmers in 1982, the promotion program under the leadership of MEDA chairman Tom Camerlo began to explore the feasibility of all dairy farmers in the United States paying an equal contribution, based on pounds of milk produced at each farm, to fund dairy promotions. MEDA already had a mandatory deduction from members pay checks of 1% gross pay price; during this time farmers were receiving an on farm pay price in the range of $14.00 per hundred pounds of milk produced.
A national movement began in Colorado recommending that all dairy farmers in the U.S. be assessed $0.05 per 100 pounds of production to help remove surplus supplies of milk and stabilize the market.
In 1983, congress passed the “The National Dairy and Tobacco act of 1983” creating “The National Dairy Promotion and Research Board“(NDB). Eighteen dairy checkoff organizations were formed in the U.S., called “States and Regions.” WDPA is one of those seventeen organizations. Today, twenty State and Regions organizations exist.
In 1984, WDPA and WDC took on the promotion responsibilities for Montana dairymen.
During the mid to late 1980’s, the NDB and UDIA had several three-way partnership agreements with The California Milk Advisory Board and continued to promote dairy into the early 1990’s. As the programs begin to evolve in separate directions, the dairy farmer leadership saw a need to better coordinate promotion activities. It was then that the two national Organizations, NDB and UDIA, set the course for a partnership between UDIA and NDB, in 1995, and named Dairy Management Inc. (DMI). DMI is the dairy promotion model guiding the dairy checkoff nationally, today.
In 1995, dairy farmers also wanted a unified voice with regards to its funding, promotion activities, nutrition education, science, and research, thus they created the “Unified Marketing Plan” which is implemented by the states and regions organizations, like WDA, across the United States.
With the retirement of WDPA manager Tom Jenkinson in December of 2006, the Board of Directors hired Cynthia S. Haren as the chief executive officer for the organization. Ms. Haren brings more than 30 years’ experience and leadership working with agricultural, rural community issues, and business leadership to her role as Chief Executive Officer.
WDA is an affiliate of the National Dairy Council and Dairy Management Inc. And, it is one of the dairy checkoff, state and region organizations (see Appendix B).
In 2007, under the leadership of Cynthia Haren and the board of directors, WDPA and WDC were merged into one organization, Western Dairy Association (WDA). It represented the unifying of the organization under a single brand and mission, communicating WDA’s core values. It also served the purpose of aligning regional dairy checkoff programs with the unified national plan and clearly defining the differences. This merger signifies “one company,” implementing “one unified program and one unified dairy farmer voice,” preparing the company for new challenges.
Ms. Haren initiated the “World Class Dairy Initiative” setting the stage for “best in class” dairy farm families in this region and creating efficiencies, right-sizing the organizational structure and responsibilities.
Haren also began a new Dairy Farmer Image Campaign and school pizza partnership which resulted in both initiatives receiving a Heartland Emmy Award; the first award of its kind for WDA.
In 2011, Haren developed a new strategic vision and plan, with her team, including measurable benchmarks and definable strategies and tactics, bringing higher value to “today’s” dairy farm families and the industry.