By Sherry Bunting, Farmshine, Friday, May 5, 2023
ROSEMONT, Ill. — Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell has been named the new board chairman of the Global Dairy Platform (GDP), a non-profit industry association representing the international dairy sector. A portion of its revenue is from membership dues, but also from the 7.5-cents per hundredweight equivalent checkoff on U.S. dairy imports as well as grants for research and program services from Dairy Management Inc (DMI).
Fonterra’s Hurrell will replace Hein Schumacher, who is leaving his position as CEO of Royal FrieslandCampina to become CEO of Unilever.
In the April 26 news release, Hurrell cites Schumacher’s leadership in “accelerating climate action via the ground-breaking Pathways to Dairy Net Zero Initiative.”
Announced in the same release is the appointment to the GDP operational committee of French multinational Danone’s senior vice president of sustainability strategy.
According to its 501(c)6 non-profit tax filings, “GDP is a pre-competitive collaboration,” and its governance groups — the board and the operational committee — “manage a ‘Dairy Sustainability Framework’ to unify the approach being taken by dairy organizations to the broad challenges of sustainability from environmental, social, and economic perspectives.”
The Dairy Sustainability Framework is part of the Dairy Sustainability Alliance of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, another non-profit founded and funded by dairy checkoff organizations under the DMI umbrella. The Innovation Center sets U.S. Dairy Stewardship Commitments that are implemented through the FARM program and reviewed every three to five years to show U.S. dairy is, according to its website, “moving the needle toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.”
DMI, its Innovation Center, Dairy Sustainability Alliance, Dairy Sustainability Framework, and U.S. Dairy Stewardship Commitments are all located at Suite 900, 10255 W Higgins Road, Rosemont, Illinois, and the Global Dairy Platform (GDP) address of record is Suite 820 at the same street address.
Along with New Zealand’s Fonterra, CEOs from these top-15 dairy multinationals serve on the GDP Board: Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), headquartered in Kansas; Arla Foods, headquartered in Denmark; Leprino, headquartered in Colorado; China’s Mengniu Dairy Company; Moringa Milk Industry, headquartered in Japan; Royal FrieslandCampina, headquartered in the Netherlands, and Saputo, headquartered in Canada.
Along with the board of directors, the GDP operational committee provides governance and includes sustainability executives for Arla, DFA, Fonterra, Land O’Lakes, Meiji Holdings and FrieslandCampina.
In a separate April 2023 bulletin, GDP announced the May 1, 2023 retirement of Dr. Greg Miller from his position as research lead for GDP since its inception. Known as ‘Dr. Dairy’, Miller has served as the chief science officer for the National Dairy Council for nearly 32 years and as executive vice president of research, regulatory and scientific affairs for DMI. Miller will continue as a member of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization Scientific Advisory Committee.
Key paid staff for GDP is Donald Moore, the executive director since 2010. Before that, he was a Fonterra senior executive in business development and ingredients marketing for 20 years.
Moore also serves as chairman of the governance group for the Dairy Sustainability Framework since its inception in 2013.
With Fonterra’s CEO as the new board chairman of the GDP, and with a former Fonterra senior executive serving 13 years to-date as the executive director of the GDP and the chair of the governance group for the Dairy Sustainability Framework, it’s worth noting that Fonterra announced six months ago its new start-up company for alternative dairy ingredients. According to the October 2022 press release, Fonterra has partnered with Royal DSM, a Dutch company, in creating this start-up “to accelerate the development and commercialization of (animal-free) fermentation-derived proteins with dairy-like properties.”
With Danone’s senior vice president of sustainability strategy now appointed to the GDP operational committee, it’s worth noting that in October 2022, Danone announced it would use artificial intelligence to reformulate 70% of its plant-based fake-milk products. This followed the 2021 earnings call where Danone executives outlined new fake-milk and dairy product launches with plans to use “new dairy-like technology” to “win over” the 60% of U.S. consumers not in the plant-based category because of taste and texture. The Danone executives told shareholders their Renew strategy identifies the U.S. as a “key plant-based market.” In January 2023, Danone announced it is eyeing sale of Horizon Organic, saying it falls outside of their key areas of focus.
Global Dairy Platform (GDP) was formed in 2006 as an alliance, according to its website. Its tax filings confirm incorporation as a 501(c)6 non-profit in 2012 and its address of record at Suite 820 at 10255 W Higgins Road, Rosemont, IL 60018.
According to the GDP’s most recent IRS 990s that are publicly available for 2017 through 2019, the years when former DFA CEO Rick Smith was its chairman, GDP had revenues between $3.7 and $4.2 million annually. This increased to $4.7 million in 2020, according to an available summary of the IRS 990 for that year.
The tax returns show approximately $1 million in GDP revenue came from membership dues and approximately $2.7 million annually from granted program services and research funds (checkoff).
The GDP revenue also included approximately $500,000 in ‘import assessments.’ The 7.5-cent import checkoff, which was implemented in 2011 amid formation of the Innovation Center and its resulting alliances and frameworks.
GDP’s executive director Donald Moore is paid a salary package of nearly $600,000 annually. The top three independent contractors in 2018-19 included DMI receiving over $800,000 annually for program services and administration; Massey University in New Zealand $451,000; Emerging Ag in Calgary, Alberta, Canada $600,000 (for UN access), and Lindsey Consulting, in the UK nearly $300,000 with Brian Lindsey serving as the GDP’s sustainability lead.
According to GDP, its membership consists of more than 95 corporations, companies, associations, scientific bodies, and other partners, with operations in more than 150 countries, collectively accounting for approximately one-third of global milk supplies.
DMI manages the national nickel from the 15 cents per hundredweight checkoff deducted from U.S. milk checks for research, education, and promotion. DMI also manages the unified marketing plan many state and regional checkoff organizations contribute toward, and DMI manages the 7.5 cents per hundredweight equivalent import checkoff, handed off to the GDP.
DMI states in its 501(c)6 non-profit tax filing that it is “investing dairy producer checkoff funds in strategic, coordinated marketing programs designed to increase consumption of U.S. dairy products domestically and internationally.”
The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy was initiated in 2008, but according to its tax filings, was incorporated as a 501(c)6 non-profit in 2012 under the name: The Dairy Center for Strategic Innovation and Collaboration Inc., doing business as Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.
In 2017, DMI trademarked the names ‘Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy’ and ‘Dairy Sustainability Alliance.’
Leprino CEO Mike Durkin was elected chairman of the board of the Innovation Center in January 2023.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Why do these connections matter? Because the UN Food and Agriculture Organization is getting ready to make a decision about how livestock methane is calculated using GWP100, a 30 year old measure that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change even agreed overblows the problem by 3 to 4 times, or GWP*, which includes not just the sources but also the natural sinks for methane as a short-lived greenhouse gas. Dr. Frank Mitloehner has written about this, and Farmshine readers have read my many articles about the differences between the calculations and what they mean for our cows in the future. The Global Dairy Platform put out a bulletin a few months ago and pinned it to their website exploring the differences in these calculations, saying that “GWP* is not appropriate as a benchmarking tool at less than a global level.” This is concerning because it means that global dairy multinationals have oversight through dairy checkoff non-profits and alliances into formulating and deciding what U.S. dairy farmers — and their cows — will be expected to live up to, even when the science behind the decision is highly debatable. As we now know, even scientists are becoming frustrated. It’s important to know that multinational companies investing in competing animal-free fermentation-produced DNA-altered dairy-like ingredients are in leadership positions in these collaborations.