National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jim Mulhern will retire at the end of the year after a decade at the helm of NMPF and a total of 45 years in the ag industry.

In a news release, Mulhern said, “Directing the policy efforts of the nation’s dairy farmers and their cooperatives has been the highlight of my professional career.”

Mulhern, a native of Wisconsin, began his career working for a Midwest dairy cooperative in 1979 and moved to NMPF in 1985, where he directed the organization’s government affairs team and helped craft NMPF’s strategy for dealing with the 1980s farm crisis.

He worked on Capitol Hill when he first arrived in Washington, D.C., in 1982, and then again in 1990 when he served as chief of staff for Wisconsin Sen. Herb Kohl (D). He also was a partner at the international communications firm Fleishman-Hillard and managing partner at Watson/Mulhern LLC.

“My hope, all those years ago when I first came to Washington, was to make a difference and remember where I came from. Being part of the agricultural policy community here in Washington and working with and on behalf of many great people in the dairy community across the country has enabled me to achieve both goals,” Mulhern said.

Over the last two years, Mulhern has spearheaded efforts to reform the federal milk marketing order; NMPF worked extensively with dairy producers and NMPF members to formulate a petition request to USDA. The agency recently announced it would be proceeding with a pre-hearing on June 16, and Mulhern promised the same level of "dedication and preparation" in the next steps of the process, which will stretch beyond Mulhern's tenure.

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NMPF’s board of directors will discuss the subject of naming Mulhern’s successor this week at a meeting in Arlington, Va.

Randy Mooney, current chairman of the board and a Missouri dairy farmer, offered praise for Mulhern’s leadership.

“Jim has been a leader, a visionary, and a friend to dairy, and through that, a leader in agriculture,” Mooney said in the release. “The combination of his depth of knowledge, his energy, and his unflagging passion for dairy producers is impossible to replace, but we all will know that his influence and achievements will resonate in this industry for years to come.”

Michael Dykes, president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association, thanked Mulhern for his service to the dairy industry. 

“On behalf of the International Dairy Foods Association and our members across the dairy supply chain, we are grateful to Jim Mulhern for his decades of service to U.S. dairy and we wish him all the best in his planned retirement. Jim has been a friend for many years, and I’ve enjoyed our work together and wish him nothing but the best in the years ahead,” Dykes said in a statement.

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