Current Progressive Dairy digital edition

I belong to... FDF: Matthew Lussier

PD Staff Published on 11 February 2013


Age: 47



Location: Hawthorne, Florida

My dairy’s history: This is the 20th year on our farm for my wife Linda and me. We moved from northern Vermont in January of 1993 when the opportunity of owning a dairy in Florida presented itself. We started with just shy of 200 cows and have grown to 650 milking. Plus, we are now a closed herd as we raise all our replacements.

If I wasn’t a dairyman, I would be ... an owner of some other small business. I enjoy running my own business and really haven’t ever worked for anybody else – except for a couple of years right out of college.

My favorite thing about working in the dairy industry is ... working with my family. My father, Noel, does most of the haying with me and my son, Kevin. My mother, Barbara, started our calf program years ago and still helps out with the farm books. My daughter, Samantha, grew up feeding calves with her grandmother. And Linda is very active in all aspects of the farm. We definitely are a family farm.

I have been a member of FDF since ... my wife and I won the Florida Outstanding Young Dairy Farmer award in 1999. As part of that, I was given a non-voting seat on the board of FDF. In 2000, I joined the board as a voting director. In 2005, the board elected me president.


I initially joined FDF because ... I first got involved through the award we won. But once I began going to the board meetings, I was blown away with how much the organization does. Like a lot of dairy farmers, my on-farm responsibilities kept me from dedicating a lot of attention to how my promotion investment worked and what was done with those dollars.

When I found out how involved FDF and the other promotion organizations are in promoting, protecting, and developing our dairy products, I really wanted to take a more active role. I have enjoyed my time on the board and have taken my responsibilities as FDF’s president very seriously.

A little-known fact about this organization is ... in its 50-plus-year history, FDF has had only two CEOs. That was one of the things that surprised me. Bill Boardman was the CEO/manager of FDF (called DFI at that time) when it was founded and he served for years.

The current CEO, Michele Cooper, replaced Mr. Boardman upon his retirement and continues in that role today. I believe Michele has been with the organization for 28 years. When quality people dedicate their whole professional lives to an organization, it says a lot.

An influential or interesting person I’ve met through FDF is ... Bob Butler. When I became involved with FDF in 1999, I had been in Florida seven years but knew very few other farmers in the state. I was building my farm and didn’t have the opportunity to stray very far from it.

Once I became involved in promotion I was very fortunate to make a friend in Bob Butler. Bob, who was president of FDF at the time, and his wife Pam were very involved with the young farmer events. They took Linda and me under their wings and got us involved. They remain some of our closest friends today.


There are so many other folks that have really impressed me through my years with promotion. Dedicated employees that pour their heart and soul into our industry. Farmers who give up their most valuable resource, time away from the farm, to help define the direction of our promotion programs.

Innovative and imaginative people who create new opportunities for our products. Farmers and people from around the country who can get beyond their differences to work for what’s in the best interest of the industry. Business leaders who define the term “thinking outside the box.”

The dairy industry’s greatest opportunity is ... the future world demand for our products. The world’s population isn’t going to stop growing and as the middle class in other countries continues to expand, our products will be in high demand.

Even though other countries are expanding their dairy industries, the U.S. is very well positioned to be the main supplier. The challenge is being able to meet this demand. We will need to change our products to meet what the world wants to buy. Product innovation, both for the world and domestic markets, is going to be vital for our industry to survive.

My advice to all dairymen/dairywomen is ... develop business plans that help you navigate the peaks and the valleys, because we operate in a time where volatility seems to be the norm. I used to just think in terms of milk price. But if 2012 has shown us anything, it’s that there is plenty of volatility in the cost side of the ledger. That adds a whole different set of challenges. PD

Florida Dairy Farmers 166 Lookout Place
Maitland, FL 32751
(407) 647-8899

Year founded: 1958, as the American Dairy Association of Florida

Number of members: between 130 and 140 farms

Florida Dairy Farmers is Florida’s milk promotion group, working to educate people on the dairy farming industry and the nutrient-rich foods it provides.