One of the nation's most powerful dairy farm lobbying groups, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), will have a new leader at the beginning of next year - and he's from Wisconsin.
The federation, which includes 30 of the nation's dairy cooperatives and represents more than 32,000 dairy producers who are member-owners, announced last week that Jim Mulhern would take over leadership of the organization on Jan. 1, 2014.
Mulhern has been Chief Operating Officer for the NMPF since January, and since that time has managed the communications, government relations, and membership functions of the organization.
His appointment to that position marked a return to NMPF - he had directed the organization's government relations program earlier in his career.
The Portage, WI native, will take over as President and Chief Executive Officer at the beginning of next year when current federation leader Jerry Kozak retires.
The NMPF Board of Directors has officially appointed Mulhern to the new position.
"We are very excited to have such a knowledgeable and capable leader at the head of our team in the coming years," said the organization's chairman Randy Mooney, a Missouri dairy producer.
"The importance of experience cannot be underestimated in a complex industry like ours. Jim's impressive and extensive track record working on dairy issues made him the ideal choice to be the next President and CEO of NMPF."
Mulhern left Wisconsin behind in 1983 for the nation's capital, where his first job was on Capitol Hill; in the mid-1980s he worked for NMPF and then returned to the Hill to serve as Chief of Staff for Wisconsin Sen. Herb Kohl.
Mulhern also worked in senior management positions for Fleishman-Hillard, the Fratelli Group and Watson/Mulhern LLC.
During this period, he maintained a close relationship with the dairy industry and NMPF by working as a consultant on numerous projects.
"I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to lead a membership organization that has meant so much to me throughout my career. I look forward to building further upon the relationships and successes of the past, but with a clear focus on addressing the challenges to dairy farming's future," said Mulhern.
The organization also announced that after Kozak retires from the top job at year's end, he will continue his involvement with the organization's Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) program, which provides export assistance to its member cooperatives.
He will oversee the program and administrative operations and will report directly to Mulhern.
"We are very pleased that Jerry will be available to help us manage the CWT program in the days ahead," said Mooney. "CWT has been a critical factor behind the phenomenal growth in American dairy exports over the past few years, and we appreciate that Jerry's commitment to its success will continue after this year."
Kozak has been in the federation's top job since 1997.