Dairylea's rich history dates back to 1907, when a group of dairy farmers in Orange County, New York, united to increase their bargaining power. They formed the Dairymen’s League, one of America's first cooperatives. By the 1920s, the League's membership had grown to more than 100,000 farms.
In order to obtain fair pricing and guarantee a market for all of its members' milk, the Dairymen's League Cooperative Association, Inc. began operating its own processing and manufacturing plants. The Cooperative introduced the name "Dairylea," combining Dairymen’s and League, for its products in 1923, which went on to become one of the leading brands in the Northeast. In 1969, the Cooperative changed its name to Dairylea Cooperative Inc., for a closer tie-in to its product line.
The Cooperative continued producing the Dairylea product line until November 1988, when it sold the last of its commercial operations. Having divested of its operating facilities, Dairylea embarked on a plan to invest in dairy enterprises throughout the Northeast. True to its goal, the Cooperative currently has more than $10 million invested in agricultural businesses within the region. With its investments in the region, Dairylea offers a voice on behalf of its members across the industry.
In the early 1990s, Dairylea returned to its roots as a milk marketing and service organization, and has grown at a tremendous rate. The volume of milk marketed by the Cooperative more than tripled during the decade, currently reaching nearly 5.5 billion pounds annually. The Cooperative is now the largest marketer of raw milk in the Northeast and has sale contracts with virtually every major dairy business in the region.
In 1999, Dairylea, in conjunction with Dairy Farmers of America, formed Dairy Marketing Services, LLC (DMS). DMS manages the sale and distribution of the raw milk for both organizations and a number of independent producers and cooperatives, including more than 9,500 farms producing 16 billion pounds of milk annually.
2007 marked the 100th anniversary of the creation of the Dairymen’s League. Dairylea’s rich heritage continues to grow and prosper today. As a main contributor to establishing the Capper-Volstead Act, Dairylea assisted in legalizing the formation of voluntary cooperative associations for “purposes of producing, handling and marketing farm products.” Dairylea is proud to be one of the only cooperatives to celebrate such a tremendous milestone, one-hundred years!