DFA Members Take Immigration and Farm Bill Message to Capitol Hill

Young Cooperators Gain National Legislative Experience
June 12, 2007

Kansas City, Mo. - Members and staff of Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. (DFA) traveled to Washington D.C. last week to meet with legislators and discuss the timely immigration bill, upcoming farm bill and other dairy issues. They joined other dairy industry leaders at the 2007 National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) Dairy Policy and Legislative Forum the week of June 4.

Thirty DFA Young Cooperators from across the country met with their Congressional representatives and senators, and urged their support of comprehensive immigration reform legislation. This legislation contains the core principles of AgJOBS, a bill which has broad support in the dairy industry and focuses on a wide range of immigration issues facing agriculture. Senate Bill 1348 would provide a comprehensive and workable guest worker program that would meet the unique labor needs of dairy producers.

“Our members’ visits were critical to the immigration reform legislation being debated in the senate last week,” said Tom Camerlo of Florence, Colo., chairman of DFA’s Board of Directors. “Dairy farmers share the concerns of all Americans relative to securing our borders and preserving the security of our country. However, failing to provide for orderly flows of a needed work force will create negative economic consequences for our industry and do very little to enhance our border protection.”

Later in the week, efforts to pass the immigration bill suffered a set-back when the Senate failed to pass a motion to end the debate and move forward with a vote. Legislators must hear from dairy producers about how important the bill is to the viability of the dairy industry.

“Now more than ever, Congress needs to hear that inaction on the immigration bill is not an option,” said Camerlo. “I urge all dairy producers to contact their senators this week.”

In addition to immigration reform, DFA members also highlighted other critical issues facing the dairy industry including the 2007 Farm Bill, the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and free trade agreements with Peru and Panama. Highlights include:

  • 2007 Farm Bill – DFA supports the Dairy Price Support, Milk Producer Security and Risk Management programs; expansions for Nutrition, Public and Animal Health, and Export Incentive and Promotion programs; improvements in conservation programs; and the addition of renewable energy provisions and a promotion assessment on imports.
  • CERCLA – Clarification is needed that the Superfund Law was not intended to apply to animal agriculture. DFA members and staff asked members of Congress to co-sponsor House Bill 1398 and Senate Bill 807.
  • Free Trade Agreements – DFA supports the recently concluded free trade agreements with Peru and Panama that will provide beneficial new export opportunities to the U.S. dairy industry.

While in Washington, the DFA Young Cooperators also helped celebrate Borden’s 150th anniversary and induction of Borden memorabilia into the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of American History. Borden Cheese® and its famous, ‘Elsie the Cow,’ have been part of Dairy Farmers of America since 1998. For more information on the celebration, visit www.dfamilk.com.

The DFA Young Cooperator Program is designed to foster interaction among young farmers as they share experiences with one another and develop leadership skills. Through the program, members gain a better understanding of the value and philosophy of a cooperative, enabling them to improve their industry, their cooperative and their lives.

“The YC program creates a constant supply of knowledgeable future leaders,” said Camerlo. “This will benefit not only DFA, but the future of the dairy industry.”

Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. is a dairy marketing cooperative created in 1998 that serves and is owned by 20,000 dairy farmers in 49 states. DFA is one of the country’s most diversified manufacturers of dairy products, food components and ingredients, and is a leader in formulating and packaging shelf-stable dairy products. For more information, call 1-888-DFA-MILK (332-6455) or visit www.dfamilk.com.