Over the course of time, individual dairy producers have disagreed on many issues. With the current availability of technology, wide market fluctuations, and increased regulation, however, all should be able to agree that the challenges of being successful will continue to mount. To help producers meet these challenges, it is widely believed that one voice is best on legislative and regulatory issues.
In Ohio's past, several different organizations have been representing the interests of their respective memberships, whether being based on marketing preference or supplies and services purchased. To some extent, this representation was effective but with dairy farm numbers decreasing dramatically over the last forty years, even the largest voices have lost a lot of their local strength. Part of this has been due to the trend towards national and global companies. As one state industry leader stated, "we are giving the car keys to another driver." This approach works great when addressing national and global issues, but without close supervision, state and regional issues can easily be overlooked. Also, as organizations grow larger, individuals are less likely to be actively involved.
During the past year, two organizations that have been speaking on the behalf of dairy producers in Ohio have decided to join forces, uniting their strengths. One organization, the Ohio Dairy Farmers Federation (ODFF), had an established track record of working cooperatively with groups like the Ohio Livestock Coalition and of having great industry support. They also initiated and administered the Ohio Dairy Research Fund. Another group, the Progressive Dairy Producers of Ohio (PDPO), concentrated on educational programming for Ohio's dairy producers in cooperation with Ohio State University. These two groups joined to form the Ohio Dairy Producers, Inc. (ODP).
During the December 2002 Ohio Dairy Management Conference the Ohio Dairy Producers (ODP) held its "Membership Kick-Off", offering dairy producers and industry representatives the opportunity to sign up for the 2003 membership year. During the event, organizational members COBA, DFA, DHI, and Genex provided "special edition" ODP hats.
The dairy producers that organized the Ohio Dairy Producer's (ODP) have developed the following mission statement to express their goal of representing all dairy producers in Ohio, regardless of their geographic location, marketing preference, or operation's size:
"Supporting Ohio's Dairy Production Industry, Optimizing Productivity and Profitability, and Addressing Issues Affecting Dairy Producers"
Immediate benefits that are available to ODP members are reduced conference and seminar rates at selected OSU and ODP educational events, access to reduced workers compensation group rates, and as announced by Farmshine's editor Dieter Krieg at the Ohio Dairy Management Conference, a two-year subscription to Farmshine's weekly Ag Newspaper. To help foster increased communication in the industry, members will also receive a quarterly ODP newsletter and, for those with fax or email access, a biweekly "ODP Enews Update". These updates will include events and developments that directly affect Ohio's dairy production industry.
Several types of ODP memberships are available. Memberships are classified as Organizational, Individual Producer, Industry Associate, and Individual Associate memberships. Much like ODFF and PDPO, dairy producer organizations and allied industries form the financial base of the new organization. Organizational memberships are open to dairy producer owned and controlled organizations and associations. The COBA/Select Sires Inc., CRI/Genex, DFA, Ohio DHI, Ohio Jersey Breeders, Ohio Guernsey Breeders, and Ohio Holstein Association are ODP's founding organizational members. Dairy producers affiliated with these groups will be considered as having a "representational" membership and will receive benefits as determined by each representative organization. Each organizational membership is entitled to a seat on the board, and multiple memberships are available to each organization. Dues for each new organizational member are $1000. Industry Associate membership dues are $200 and enables allied industries to be listed as a supporter in many ODP publications.
Individuals can either join as "Individual producers" (only one membership is required per farm) or as "Individual associates". Individual producer members will have a "direct" membership and will be put on ODP's membership roster to receive future publications. Only individual producers are eligible to vote or run for the 10 producer director seats that are distributed into five geographic areas. Individual associates are not allowed to vote. Both of these membership's dues are $50.
Other than offering direct immediate benefits to its members, the true benefits of ODP to producers will lie in its collaborative efforts in Legislative Awareness, Regulatory Involvement, and Educational/Extension Programming. The existing Ohio Dairy Research Fund will also be administered by ODP, allowing producers to voluntarily contribute to Extension and research projects that will provide benefits to producers.
The ODP leadership has already initiated these tasks and continues to develop contacts with Ohio's legislative and regulatory authorities in attempts to improve communication and to inform agencies of Ohio's Dairy Producers' new voice. To become an active apart of Ohio's Dairy future, contact Tim Demland at (419) 523-6294 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also get more information about the Ohio Dairy Producers on the web at http://putnam.osu.edu/ag/ODP.html.