Jon and Kim Schmidt of Owatonna, Minn., are the 2018 Young Cooperator (YC) chairpersons for Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI). Fellow YCs elected the couple during the spring annual meeting of the Midwest milk marketing cooperative. The YC program is open to AMPI members age 40 and under. "Through the AMPI YC Program, we get a behind-the-scenes look into how our cooperative operates," Jon says. "Understanding how our milk is marketed and learning from co-op leaders is important as we represent the future of this business.” “At the same time, we are building a network of friendships through the program,” Kim says. “It’s refreshing to gather with fellow young dairy farmers who are all experiencing the same ups and downs of dairy farming.” The Schmidts will work with fellow YC steering committee members to plan and host events throughout the year. Fellow members of the committee include: past chairpersons, Mark and Kimber Sipma, Boyden, Iowa; vice chairpersons, Cole and Amy Hoscheit, Caledonia, Minn.; secretaries, Parker and Katherine Byington, Lewiston, Minn.; and members-at-large, Matthew and Julie Peterson, Boyd, Wis. YCs also elect division chairpersons who serve at the local level. They include Parker and Katherine Byington, Lewiston, Minn.; Jacob and Sarah Enter, Nicollet, Minn.; Joey and Jennifer Jandt, West Salem, Wis.; Josiah McNally, New Hampton, Iowa; Brent Mergen, Albany, Minn.; Matthew and Julie Peterson, Boyd, Wis., and Neal and Laura Vellema, Harris, Iowa. Looking ahead, AMPI YCs will be traveling to Eau Claire, Wis., June 19-20 for the annual YC summer tour. The event will feature a tour of the AMPI cheese plant in Blair, Wis., and member farms. AMPI is headquartered in New Ulm, Minn., and owned by dairy farm families from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota. In 2017, AMPI members marketed 5.7 billion pounds of milk, resulting in $1.7 billion in sales.