Saturday, August 18, 2012


We went with a group of young farmers to tour the Michigan Milk Producers Association headquarters in Novi, MI.  MMPA is our member-owned cooperative.

It was fascinating!  Our tour started in the lab with Patti Huttula.  She explained everything that the three lab technicians were doing and how the machines worked. 

Every day, every farm gets an online report on their milk's components - butterfat, protein, somatic cell count, and other solids. 

While I realized this, and knew that the milk was tested, I loved seeing how it actually happens. 

Huge, intricate, well-oiled machines.

Look at those insides!

I asked Patti that if the machines needed configuring, could they do it, or did someone come in to fix it?  She kind of laughed and said that the guy who fixes the machine is actually her fiance.  She said she knew exactly which day they installed the machine because that's the day she met him.

We moved on to the office area, where Joe Diglio, director of finance, talked about how much he loved accounting.

Have you ever seen anyone look so excited about accounting before?  He wasn't faking.

He took us around to meet more staff members, and they were all so cheerful and positive.  It was obvious that they took pride in their work.

MMPA President Ken Nobis talked in part about the political aspect of our milk price.  GM Clay Galarneau detailed how the calculations for the milk check work and why.  Dean Letter, director of member services, talked about milk quality issues.

When I was in high school I was active in student council and drama.  I knew that there was a lot of work to be done before any school event or play.  I could never again go to any production without thinking about how someone ordered the linens, and someone painted that set piece, and someone designed posters, printed them, and put them up to get me there in the first place.

While I knew in general that our co-op did the behind-the-scenes work, it was great to see it in specific.  One of the benefits of belonging to a co-op is that while we're involved in milk production every day, there's a whole network of people involved in testing, marketing, and selling that milk.

And when they seem to like it ... and throw in a romantic story?  All the better.

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