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Co-op Member Farmers Highlight Policy Priorities at Listening Sessions

August 2, 2022

Dairy producers from NMPF member cooperatives nationwide are playing prominent roles in House Agriculture Committee listening session as the panel begins work toward the 2023 Farm Bill seizing the opportunity to elevate dairy priorities on farm policy, trade, sustainability and other issues.

Jim Boyle, a United Dairymen of Arizona member from Casa Grande, spoke at a session hosted by Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ) on June 25 in Coolidge, where he emphasized the need for more equitable treatment of dairy farmers of all sizes, including in pandemic relief programs to reimburse dairy farmers for COVID-19 losses. NMPF is working closely with Congress to provide additional reimbursements to producers participating the USDA’s Pandemic Market Volatility Assistance Program whose payments bumped against the program’s initial five-million-pound production cap.

Two NMPF board members also participated in a California session hosted by Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) on July 7 in Fresno. Melvin Medeiros, a Dairy Farmers of America producer from Laton who sits on NMPF’s Executive Committee, and Joey Fernandes, a Land O’Lakes producer and NMPF board member from Tulare, urged Congress to craft policies that boost exports and aids dairy producers of all sizes in all regions.

On July 22, Northwest Dairy Association/Darigold board member Jeremy Visser and former NMPF board member Jim Werkhoven, also an NDA/Darigold member, spoke at a listening session in Carnation, Washington, held by Rep. Kim Schrier (D-WA). Visser and Werkhoven urged the committee to ensure that risk management tools work effectively for farmers of all sizes and urged robust funding for trade promotion programs, including the Market Access Program.

The committee’s final listening session of July took place in Northfield, Minnesota on July 25 at an event hosted by Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN). Steve Schlangen, Chairman of Associated Milk Producers Inc. and an NMPF executive committee member, emphasized the value the Dairy Margin Coverage program has provided to producers and urged the committee to strengthen the program. Charles Krause, a DFA farmer from Buffalo, MN, and KC Graner, a Land O’Lakes ag retail member-owner from Truman, highlighted topics including the Dairy Donation Program to provide dairy products to food insecure families and additional funding and policies to encourage and scale climate-smart ag practices.

“From trade, to sustainability, to providing an adequate safety net to producers of all sizes, the farmers who own NMPF’s member cooperatives are critical to conversations that affect all of agriculture in the next Farm Bill and beyond,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “We commend our members from around the country for sharing their insights and thank Congress for making sure that dairy’s voice is heard as the next Farm Bill begins taking shape.”