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NMPF President and CEO Remarks on Organization’s Centennial at Annual Meeting

November 16, 2016

At National Milk’s 100th annual meeting, President and CEO Jim Mulhern noted the occasion by reminding attendees of NMPF’s crucial role as a strong advocate for its members in areas including expanding economic opportunities for farmers, and shaping consumer perception of farming practices.

Speaking in front of dairy industry leaders and stakeholders in Nashville, Tenn., Mulhern said that as one of Washington’s leading agriculture policy groups, NMPF will continue its aggressive dedication to issues such as economics, trade, animal care and nutrition.

“We will speak out, we will push back, when those who don’t necessarily have your interests at heart push their agenda at our expense,” he said.

The dairy farming landscape – and the world outside of it – have changed considerably, Mulhern said, but he said changing times will not shift NMPF’s focus on priorities important to its members. These include improving the Margin Protection Program, which he said has yet to “live up to its intended potential” amid a struggling dairy economy, but is still the right program for the dairy industry’s future. Mulhern said NMPF will work with the new Congress to make necessary improvements in the primary safety net for farmers.

Mulhern also called for immigration reform to assure an adequate workforce for America’s dairy farms, and the need for dairy to seek opportunities for greater market access all over the world, including through carefully-negotiated trade agreements.

With the debate over sustainability at the forefront of many people’s minds, Mulhern discussed NMPF’s leadership efforts to bring other farm groups together in challenging Dannon USA’s pledge to source its milk from only cows that consume non-GMO feed, what he called a “fear-based marketing tactic.” The farming community must project a stronger, louder and unified voice as it dispels false marketing claims, he said. [see story below]

In the latter half of his presentation, Mulhern discussed the positive momentum behind some of NMPF’s key priorities. This includes the changing consumer perceptions on the role of fat in a healthy diet, and the success of the National Dairy FARM Program, which has expanded to also focus on antibiotic and environmental stewardship. Today, more than 98 percent of the nation’s milk supply is now covered under the program.

Mulhern said learning from the past, and analyzing consumer and economic trends, are key “to creating a brighter future for dairy.”