Dairy Gains Strength Through its Advocates
July 5, 2023
Dairy farmers don’t advance better policy unless dairy farmers get involved. And don’t take my word for it: Listen to NMPF’s Young Cooperators, who met with members of Congress last month at their annual Capitol Hill fly-in.
“Forging connections with our elected officials is so important for dairy farmers,” wrote Isabel Mullin, an Agri-Mark farmer near Kittery, ME, in feedback after the event. “The communication informs them about the real-life impact of policy proposals and it informs us about potential changes coming for our farms.”
“As the general public becomes further and further removed from agriculture, it is even more important to share our experiences and build relationships with our elected officials,” said Katelyn Packard, who dairies outside Manchester, MI. “They represent our community and make decisions that affect us each day.”
Isabel and Katelyn are right. As dairy farmers grow fewer in number and demands on congressional attention rise, a personal voice is critical to breaking through the noise and misinformation that dominates federal policymaking. Important decisions for the future of dairy are coming over the next few months, ranging from a new farm bill and Federal Milk Marketing Order discussions to efforts to get whole milk back in schools and bring greater transparency to the labeling of plant-based beverages that use dairy terms.
All these challenges will make grass-roots engagement from dairy farmers and their affiliated organizations, as well the broader dairy industry and allies among the public, that much more important. That’s why our preparations for an FMMO order hearing are being led by our member cooperatives, who with us are coordinating farmer testimony during the upcoming weekslong USDA hearing. That’s why we’ve created a Dairy Voice Network of farmers trained to deal with media interviews and speak out for the industry. It’s why we help our cooperatives prepare farmers for congressional hearings on the farm bill and other topics.
Dairy farmers need a seat at the table; we work both to get them there and help them be effective in that position.
Also critical to our efforts are our Calls to Action – a way for dairy farmers and their friends to get involved that’s as simple as sending an e-mail. Our Advocacy page, found at https://www.nmpf.org/take-action/ offers updates on critical initiatives affecting farmers and provides tools for dairy advocates to make themselves heard via letters to relevant lawmakers and policy officials.
Currently, the page offers opportunities to help on the FDA’s draft guidance on plant-based beverages; the SAVE Act, a critical piece of legislation defending U.S. cheesemakers from European Union attempts to restrict what names are used for cheeses; and the Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act, which would put whole and 2% milk back on school lunch menus. Calls to support dairy farmers in the farm bill and through Federal Milk Marketing Order modernization will be coming soon.
We’d urge everyone who cares about dairy’s future to visit the page and sign up for our Advocacy Alerts, where advocates are notified of important policy developments and asked to act upon them. As an organization, the National Milk Producers Federation has always worked with a strength that’s greater than its numbers – and that strength comes from the unity of our community. With important initiatives imminent, now is a great time to reinforce this strength. We’re hoping you can help.
President & CEO, NMPF