Linwood “Tip” Tipton loomed larger than life during his 38 years of service to United States dairy industry associations. As the first president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Tipton managed the affairs of the Milk Industry Foundation (MIF), National Cheese Institute (NCI), and the International Ice Cream Association (IICA).
Born November 19, 1934, Tipton grew up on a Missouri dairy farm and earned a Bachelor of Science in agricultural economics and a Master of Science in economics from the University of Missouri. He received the University of Missouri Alumni Association’s coveted “Citation of Merit” award in 1988 for service to U.S. agriculture. In 1987, he served on the committee of ice cream industry professionals to lead in selection of an MU food science professor to direct, under the Arbuckle Endowment, a new program in ice cream teaching, research, outreach, manufacturing and sale of Buck’s Ice Cream featuring Tiger Stripe.
In 1957, Tipton was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army Finance Corps. He started his dairy career early in the 1960s as an economist with the Eastern Milk Producers Cooperative, where he supported efforts to streamline regulated farm milk pricing. Not long after, he was recruited to join the staff of the Milk Industry Foundation and the International Ice Cream Association. Tipton then began to build a foundation for bringing new cohesion and growth to the industry.
Tipton is widely acclaimed as the driving force that founded the processorfunded generic promotion program famous for the milk moustache “Got Milk?” national campaign. He led the management of the program’s elements from inception until the end of 2003. He also founded the Bev Expo trade show and the Worldwide Food Expo, held every other year in Chicago. During that time, he co-founded a hotel/motel and restaurant chain, which grew over time to more than thirty properties. Tipton served as chairman of the board and CEO and ultimately sold the chain in 2000.
He never strayed far from the dairy industry, however. In 1980, he founded the annual International Sweetener Colloquium, bringing together food and beverage companies that use sugar to discuss common issues related to U.S. and world sugar policies.
In October 1983, Tipton married Connie Eaton Broadstone who also worked for the industry associations, and together they made many contributions to the industry.
Tipton founded the Annual Capitol Hill Ice Cream Party, which continues each June to attract Congressional leaders and thousands of Hill staffers. In 1984 he and Connie led efforts to have then President Ronald Reagan proclaim July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of July as National Ice Cream Day. This action required two-thirds approval by Congress before a presidential proclamation could be considered by President Reagan. The proclamation, approved by Congress and issued by Reagan in 1984, is still celebrated today. This past July, the White House released a photo of President Barack Obama celebrating National Ice Cream Day with a sundae.
Fresh from this success, Tipton founded the Dairy Forum in 1985 as an event for encouraging policy dialogue among processor and producer leaders. The annual forum is now recognized as one of the industry’s premier events, gaining record attendance and attention year after year.
Tip Tipton was appointed to the National Commission on Agricultural Trade and Export Policy created by Congress and President Reagan in 1984. He served as advisor on trade matters to several U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture and U.S. Trade Representatives under both Republican and Democratic Administrations. He served on the board of the National Economists Club and the National Economic Education Foundation. He served for six years (2002-2008) on the Board of Directors of the Wimm-Bill-Dann Foods Company, the largest dairy, baby foods, juice and water company in Russia.
After retiring from IDFA in 2003, he founded The Tipton Group, Inc., a consulting and lobbying firm in Washington, DC. Tip’s wife, Connie, followed in his footsteps as President and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association where she continues to provide leadership to the dairy industry on a wide range of issues.
Tipton died in 2013 at the age of 78 after a year-long illness. He leaves behind a lasting legacy of tremendous industry growth, creativity and collaboration while working with all segments of the dairy industry, as well as business associations and the Capitol Hill community. Tipton’s experience in business activities, the political arena, government relations, and international affairs gave him a unique and extremely knowledgeable perspective on the food industry.