Latest News

Young Cooperators Advocate for Dairy’s Priorities on Capitol Hill

June 8, 2023

Young dairy farmer leaders from throughout the U.S. met in Washington, D.C. June 5-6 for the National Young Cooperators (YC) Program’s annual Dairy Policy and Legislative Forum, held in conjunction with NMPF’s June Board of Directors meeting.

Forty-nine young and beginning dairy farmers from 21 states and representing ten member cooperatives participated in the two-day event, which included discussions about political engagement and dairy policy issues, along with training on how to be an effective advocate and spokesperson for dairy. YCs then headed to Capitol Hill to speak with members of Congress and their staffs about NMPF priorities including farm bill programs, dairy labeling, common cheese names and market access funding.

“NMPF’s effectiveness in Congress depends heavily on grassroots engagement. With fewer people than ever directly involved in dairy, farmers must continue to punch above their weight to maintain relevance in an increasingly urban Congress,” said Theresa Murphy, YC Program director for NMPF “NMPF’s National YC Program equips them to do just that, providing opportunities to learn background information about the many issues affecting the industry, and empowering them to become—and stay—politically engaged.”

“It’s really important to have our voices heard,” said Lorilee Schultz, this year’s YC chairwoman, in a Dairy Defined Podcast released before the fly-in. “I just want to encourage everybody to know that they can be involved in leadership and make a difference.”

Speakers for this year’s event included Congressman David Valadao, R-CA, Congress’ only dairy farmer and a former YC. Rep. Valadao shared what sparked his interest in politics, how he’s developed as a leader since first being elected to Congress in 2013, why it’s important that dairy farmers are politically engaged, and what he thinks dairy’s biggest challenges will be in the next few years and beyond

YCs also had the opportunity to hear from NMPF Chairman Randy Mooney, a Missouri dairy farmer, about his leadership experience. Mooney shared how he got started, what inspired him to seek out leadership roles and how the skills he’s developed and experiences he’s had as chairman of NMPF and Dairy Farmers of America have enhanced his life.

Since 1950, the National YC Program has provided emerging dairy leaders with a better understanding of issues facing farmers and their cooperatives. The program is open to younger and beginning dairy farmers who own or are employed on a dairy farm that is a member of one of NMPF’s member cooperatives. Click here and check the National YC Program box to stay up to date on program activities.