Guest Columns

Industry Issues

Building the IDFA of the future

Michael Dykes

Michael Dykes, president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association, contributes this column bimonthly for Cheese Market News®.

America’s dairy foods industry is experiencing unprecedented change — from political and trade pressures, to evolving consumer choice and increased competition in the food and beverage space. As the preeminent advocacy and membership-driven organization supporting the dairy foods business, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) has worked for the last 30-plus years to advance and protect our industry, while acting as a trusted advocate for our members’ regulatory, legislative and communications needs.

Like our industry, however, the needs of dairy processing companies and suppliers are changing and growing. As our industry and the needs of our members evolve, so must IDFA.

Over the past 12 months, our staff worked in partnership with board members and representatives from IDFA and our three constituent organizations — the Milk Industry Foundation (MIF), the National Cheese Institute (NCI) and the International Ice Cream Association (IICA) — to develop a plan of action. Our goal: to ensure that IDFA will continue to evolve, grow and support the industry as the legislative, regulatory and trade environments continue to change and member needs continue to grow. Throughout the year, this team of industry leaders considered many options and ultimately agreed that a new governance structure would strengthen IDFA’s foundation and position us for future success.

• New governance structure

I’m pleased to report that the boards of directors and member representatives voted this month — in an overwhelming show of support — to consolidate the governance structure of the three constituent boards under one central organization, IDFA. Under this new structure, IDFA will be more nimble, inclusive and effective in representing the interests of all segments of the dairy processing industry.

• Here’s how it will work

The new leadership structure will have an IDFA Executive Council with 15-25 members who will focus on the business and operations of the association. It also will feature Industry Segment Boards that will drive policy and strategy. Initially, there will be five Industry Segment Boards representing fluid milk, ice cream, cheese, yogurt and cultured products, and dairy-derived ingredients, but the new structure provides the flexibility to add new boards as the industry continues to evolve and additional product categories emerge.

When the new governance structure takes effect, Jan. 1, 2019, IDFA will begin operating under one set of bylaws and financial reporting requirements, as well as one budget.

• Reasons for the change

I’m confident that this new structure will provide many benefits to IDFA and its members, but these four are at the top of the list in terms of importance and expected impact.

• Pursuing priorities as one advocacy organization will enhance the effectiveness of our voice in Washington.

• Establishing Industry Segment Boards will promote continued member engagement and allow flexibility for new members and product categories in the future.

• Creating a universal structure with room for growth will allow IDFA to support the changing needs of companies and the dairy foods industry overall.

• Simplifying our current governance will allow IDFA to increase operational efficiency and effectiveness.

• How it will work

The IDFA Executive Council will conduct the official business of the association and carry out its fiduciary responsibilities.

The Industry Segment Boards will maintain the prioritizing and planning functions of the current constituent boards, providing strategic vision, policy direction and leadership on segment-specific issues. Each of these boards will conduct business without the administrative process required of a formal board and will coordinate with the IDFA Executive Council to establish its own operating principles.

Dairy processor members and Gold Business Partners will be eligible for seats on the IDFA Executive Council and Industry Segment Boards. And, of course, IDFA will continue to offer a variety of opportunities for member participation at many levels. The expertise, experience and engagement of the dairy professionals within our membership remain vitally important to our advocacy and communications efforts.

• Next steps

Beginning immediately, an interim Nomination and Governance Committee will lead the process for selecting the IDFA Executive Council members and the chairs and vice chairs of the Industry Segment Boards. The interim committee, comprised of the current officers of IDFA, MIF, NCI and IICA, will select the new leaders for the Executive Council by the end of this year, so they be in place and prepared to lead starting Jan. 1.

This is truly an exciting time for IDFA and the dairy industry. We plan to share more details in the coming months, especially in time for IDFA’s Dairy Forum, Jan. 20-23 in Orlando, Florida. I’m look forward to seeing you there and discussing plans for future growth of IDFA, your companies and the industry overall.


The views expressed by CMN’s guest columnists are their own opinions and do not necessarily reflect those of Cheese Market News®.

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