Cooperative establishes DFACares to help dairy farm families

May 9, 2009

Hurricane Katrina carries a rural face that few are seeing in the news media, however more than 312 dairy farm families and 39 DFA employee families reside in the hardest hit areas of Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama according to Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. (DFA).

“Although it’s far too soon to define economic impact, we do know that many of the dairy farms in that area are DFA’s cooperative members who – because of electrical outages, fuel shortages, generator burnouts and building losses – have struggled over the past 12 days to milk cows and ship their milk,” says Tom Camerlo, dairy farmer from Florence, Colo. and chairman of DFA’s dairy farmer board of directors.

DFA also has 39 employee families in the region and a processing plant in Franklinton, Louisiana that has been affected.

In the hurricane’s aftermath, while an overwhelming national response sought to aid the victims located in the big cities, DFA dairy farmer members and staff launched an immediate crisis response to help dairy farmers and employee families in the rural areas coordinate fuel, generators, water, ice and other emergency supplies.

“It has been an amazing and overwhelming outreach by everyone – especially DFA’s Southeast Area dairy farmers and employees, along with haulers, business partners and industry friends – working together to assist these families,” says Camerlo.

DFACares

As part of the cooperative’s family-to-family outreach effort, DFA’s dairy farmer directors have established DFACares, Inc. – formed to be a charitable, non-profit corporation. DFACares has applied for tax exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service Code. Contributions will be used to specifically aid dairy farmer and employee families affected by Hurricane Katrina.

“We are asking anyone who is interested in helping dairy farm families and other folks attached to the dairy community to contribute to DFACares,” says Don Schriver, executive vice president of DFA. “Going forward, the long-term mission of this fund is for it to be used exclusively for the benefit of providing relief, assistance and support to the agricultural industry, producers, employees, and others, who are connected with agricultural and have sustained injury or loss due to a natural disaster or similar event. Obviously the current focus is to support those efforts that specifically get help to dairy families affected by Katrina.” Donations can be made by sending a check made out to: DFACares, Inc., Dairy Farmers of America, 10220 N. Ambassador Drive, Kansas City, MO 64153.

Other dairy farmer “help” efforts

The cooperative says it’s also supporting two other hurricane relief efforts. Through its website (www.dfamilk.com), DFA has been tracking those individuals and businesses which can provide supplies and / or services that dairy farmers may need over the coming weeks.

“Our goal is to match farmers' needs with supply sources by using the web site,” says Camerlo. “At the end of the day, we want those families to know that we care! This is all about what we, who live in rural ag communities, do best – band together to help each other out during tough times. If you can help – even if it’s just to provide a good contact for farm resources -- do it. “

Like the rest of the dairy community, DFA also supports consumer relief efforts through Dairy Relief, Inc.

Contributions to Dairy Relief will go to American Red Cross’ hurricane assistance efforts. Dairy Relief donations are used to purchase U.S. dairy products and ship them to areas where they are most needed. (Checks need to be written to: ATTN: Dairy Relief, Inc., 14303 St. Rose Rd., Highland, IL 62249.)