DFA Members Speak Up for Dairy in Nation's Capital

Key Issues are Immigration and Clean Water Restoration Act
June 20, 2008

Kansas City, Mo. - The dairy industry was represented in Washington, D.C., the week of June 9 as Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. (DFA) members and staff met with legislators to discuss immigration, the Clean Water Restoration Act and other dairy issues. Twenty-four DFA Young Cooperators – members up to age 40 – from 12 states joined other dairy producers and industry leaders from across the United States at the 2008 National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) Dairy Policy and Legislative Forum.

“It’s great to see the next generation of producers getting involved and actively participating in the legislative process,” says Tom Camerlo, of Florence, Colo., chairman of DFA’s Board of Directors. “Today, more than ever, we need to build relationships with our elected leaders, and help them understand what’s important to the dairy industry.”

DFA members and staff visited almost 40 legislators urging their senators and representatives to support the Emergency Agriculture Relief Act (EARA) proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). The act would stabilize the agricultural labor force until a new president and Congress can revisit the issue of a comprehensive immigration system.

They also discussed other critical issues facing the dairy industry, including the Clean Water Restoration Act and climate change, and thanked their legislators who voted to pass the 2007 Farm Bill.

“This is the most important thing we’ve done through DFA,” says Young Cooperator member Bruce Clark, from Morgan, Utah, about his positive Washington experience. His wife, Jennifer, agrees. “It’s important to share our story with legislators,” she says. The Clarks milk 300 Holsteins on their 500-acre farm.

While in Washington, the dairy producers attended a Dairy Day reception for legislators, dairy cooperative executives and staff, and legislative staff. They also toured Washington, D.C., and watched a Washington Nationals baseball game.

The DFA Young Cooperator Program is designed to facilitate interaction among dairy producers up to age 40 as they share experiences and develop leadership skills. Through the program, members gain a better understanding of the value and philosophy of a dairy cooperative, enabling them to improve the dairy industry, their respective cooperative and their livelihoods as dairy producers.

“It’s important to meet with our legislators and give them our views on important issues in the dairy industry,” says Myles Payne, a dairy producer from Taylorsville, N.C. Payne and his wife, Lori, milk 200 Holsteins and farm 500 acres of corn, barley and soybeans in partnership with Myles’ father, Donald.