By MAGGIE SCHUETTE-VOSS
A merger of four co-ops, including Mid America Dairymen (Mid-Am) in Winsted has created Dairy Farmers of America.
According to Steve Otto, Mid-Am board member, the merger was finalized on Jan. 1.
The merger combined Western Dairymen Co-op, Inc. of Colorado; Milk Marketing, Inc. of Strongsville Ohio; Mid-America Dairymen, main office in Springfield, Mo., and the southern region of the Association of Milk Producers, Inc. (AMPI).
The merger does not include the northern region of AMPI, based in New Ulm.
Dairy Farmers of America home office will be in Kansas City, Mo.
Otto said the co-ops merged to "become a stronger player in the milk marketplace."
Talks have went on for about a year between the co-ops and on Sept. 1, 1997 the delegates voted their approval.
The co-ops hired a consultant to study the merger. Otto said the consultant estimated the co-ops could save $20 million over the next three years by eliminating duplicate services. The savings, Otto said, should come back to the members.
He said it would take two to three years for these changes to take place. He thought most would be in administration.
"I don't see too many changes in Winsted," he said.
"We're working together to eliminate expenses, get into other markets and get more into exports," he said.
The combined memberships of the co-ops is 22,000 and had $7 billion in combined sales last year.
Harold Metzger will continue as the Winsted plant manager.
Former Mid-Am CEO Gary Hanman is CEO of the new co-op.