By Associated Milk Producers Inc.

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (March 26, 2012) — Staying focused on maximizing members’ returns helped Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI) achieve positive results in 2011. Leaders announced today the dairy marketing cooperative owned by 3,000 Upper Midwest dairy farmers achieved sales of $2 billion last year.

Though weak milk volume challenged all dairy manufacturers in the region last year, the cooperative’s diversified manufacturing network increased returns in key areas.

“Our cheese-packaging plant in Portage, Wis., and the New Ulm, Minn., butter plant contributed stellar returns to the bottom line,” AMPI President and CEO Ed Welch told some 400 delegates and guests gathered for the co-op’s annual meeting at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel, Bloomington, Minn.

The 2011 performance marks the fifth consecutive year of growth in both consumer-packaged butter and cheese. The cooperative’s butter business increased 22 percent and packaged cheese sales climbed 43 percent in five years.

Following a performance review, AMPI Chairman of the Board Steve Schlangen focused on the future, talking about the cooperative’s advocacy related to the 2012 Farm Bill. “We want legislation that includes growth management to reduce market volatility and supports America’s dairy farm families, not just milk volume,” he said.

Operational highlights include:
• A $7.5 million investment to purchase and install 18 technologically advanced cheese vats to improved production efficiency and cheese yield.
• Cheddar cheese produced in Blair, Wis., and salted butter produced in New Ulm, Minn., were both awarded gold medals in the 2012 World Championship Cheese Contest. The competition attracted 2,500 entries from around the globe.
• The co-op’s three consumer-packaging plants all achieved Safe Quality Food certifications; all 12 plants will have designation in 2012.
• For the third consecutive year, the number of members earning the AMPI Milk Quality Award increased. More than 450 producers received the award for consistently achieving the cooperative’s high milk standards.

The annual meeting culminates tomorrow with delegates considering resolutions and reviewing the cooperative’s legislative priorities.

 About AMPI

 Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI) is a dairy marketing cooperative owned by 3,000 dairy farmers who market 5.8 billion pounds of milk, resulting in $2 billion in annual sales. Members operate dairy farms located throughout the Midwest states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota. The members own 12 manufacturing plants and market a full line of consumer- packaged dairy products. For more information about AMPI, visit the cooperative’s website at

SOURCE: Associated Milk Producers Inc.