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MMPA, Midwest Dairy partnership a win-win for producers and industry

By Carol Stender

Date Modified: 12/12/2012 9:08 PM

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ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Bob Lefebvre is excited about the new partnership between Minnesota Milk Producers Association and the Minnesota division of the Midwest Dairy Association.

Through the partnership, Lefebvre will continue to lead MMPA as its executive director and will help Midwest Dairy with industry relations.

"This is an excellent opportunity," said Lefebvre during a break at the Midwest Dairy Expo in St. Cloud. "My hope is that dairy producers will see a bigger impact as a result of this."

In a joint statement, the two organizations said the shared position will eliminate unnecessary duplication and will maximize their impact on the industry and dairy producers.

The partnership involves staff and isn't a merger, Lefebvre said. Each organization will retain its separate identity.

Such collaborations are common in the ag industry as organizations with similar interests share an executive director. Midwest Dairy has similar partnerships in South Dakota and Nebraska.

"What we have is two horses working together," Lefebvre said. "Both will remain separate organizations, but Midwest Dairy has information from checkoff-related activities and MMPA has the ability to get the information out and share it."

Events precipitated discussions for a partnership. Dan Flicker, MMPA membership director, is moving toward semi-retirement while Midwest Dairy had a vacancy for its senior vice president of industry relations.

Ted Radnitz has joined the MMPA staff as its policy and membership manager. He is responsible for developing and implementing the organization's public policy and membership work and will work with Flicker to recruit new MMPA members.

Radnitz will work with Kevin Walli on communicating dairy producer issues to local and state legislators and agencies.

He grew up on a 140-cow dairy farm in Maple Grove and graduated with an animal science degree from the University of Minnesota. Radnitz worked at Central Livestock in South St. Paul for four years and was the animal health outreach coordinator at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for more than six years.

"I look forward to giving back to a tremendous industry in Minnesota," he said.

Flicker will be working less than part-time, he said. He will work less in the office, but will be talking more with dairy farmers. He retired in January of 2007 for eight months before joining MMPA's staff in 2007.

"My wife told me to go out and get a job," Flicker said with a smile. "I was bugging her too much."

Flicker will continue to be involved with MMPA membership. He enjoys talking with producers.

"I've enjoyed working with Minnesota Milk," he said. "People don't get to see how responsive farmers are to their animals and how responsible they are to their land."

Flicker and his wife, Onalee, plan to do more traveling and volunteer work. They will have more time to spend with their blended family of six children and 16 grandchildren.

Don't expect Flicker to sit idle.

"I will be doing something," he said. "I can't just sit around."

Flicker and his wife, Onalee, plan to do more traveling and volunteer work.

"I've really enjoyed my time here at Minnesota Milk," Flicker said.

In his semi-retirement, Flicker will continue to be involved with MMPA, but don't expect Flicker to sit idle.

"I will do something," he said. "I can't just sit around."

Also on MMPA's staff are associate director Eir GarciaSilva and office manager Liz Purcell.