The Arizona Dairy Family is Bigger Than You Think
Arizona Milk Producers represent these 57 dairy farm families to 7 million consumers across Arizona. We work on behalf of dairy farmers to increase dairy sales, foster innovation, and inspire consumer confidence in dairy products and practices. Dairy Council of Arizona, an affiliate of National Dairy Council, is the nutrition education division of Arizona Milk Producers. The Council is dedicated to dairy nutrition research and education through the investment of dairy farm families and is committed to child health and wellness through our collaborative program, Fuel Up to Play 60.
But families, as we all know, have deep roots, and they branch far and wide – and so does the UDA family.
Because of the close geographical concentration of dairies in central Arizona, developing a sense of family was easier than in co-ops whose membership territories spread over several (or many) states. Many of UDA members are also bound in communities of faith, and that further strengthens the sense of family.
UDA is an international family when the nationalities – current or ancestral - of all of our members are considered: Irish, Dutch, Russian, Canadian, Honduran, Scottish, German, Danish, Spanish, Italian, Hungarian, Mexican, Swiss, South African and British.
Some UDA members have gone on to other occupations, but are still connected to the co-op through the goods and services they provide to their family members (who continue to dairy), to other UDA members or to the Co-op.
Some UDA members have moved to other states – and although they ship to other co-ops
or processors, there are still memories, family and business connections that keep them connected.
UDA’s family includes all the employees who have earned a paycheck helping to make this co-op one of the most flexible, efficient and agile dairy organizations in the country. Its current employee base contains 26 individuals who have served the Co-op for 20 years or more.
UDA’s family includes all those related industries and businesses that thrive because of the dairy industry: vehicle and equipment manufacturers, farmers, chemical providers, stainless manufacturers, milk haulers, veterinarians, as well as all of the processors and their employees.
UDA’s family includes all the employees on each dairy – and their families.
And if we think broadly - the UDA family includes all those who consume dairy products originating from your quality milk. Now it’s even more of an international family! UDA products are regularly shipped to Mexico, Israel, Northern Africa and the Pacific Rim. Through our relationship with DairyAmerica and with Shamrock Foods, milk from UDA members travels regularly across the country and over the oceans. UDA milk nourishes infants, the elderly and everyone in-between. That’s a huge family!
Are there times when it feels like a dysfunctional family? On occasion! Are there disagreements and conflicts of opinion? Of course – just like in any family. Is there a sense of unity despite those conflicts? Absolutely.
Do the family members help one another? Without fail. Sometimes it means coming to the aid of a fellow member in crisis – fire, flooding, or severe accidental injuries; sometimes it means coming to the aid of the co-op, with financial investments above and beyond the standard deductions. Sometimes it means UDA employees working around the clock, or devoting extra creative energy to the co-operative’s success. Weathering conflicts and storms have made UDA a stronger co-op, just as working through problems and crises makes a family strong.
And so this year, we celebrate UDA’s 58th Anniversary, rich with family lore and memories. We honor those who had the vision, the courage and hard work which gave birth to this co-op. And we thank all of those: members, employees, industry friends - who have contributed to UDA’s fifty years of success.
Celebrate with our family – we’re bigger than you think!
This post was written by Keith Murfield, Chief Executive Officer of United Dairymen of Arizona.