By Kim O’Brien
DFA Corporate Communications
Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) farmer-owner, Jon Slutsky of Wellington, Colo., recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to discuss policy issues of importance to the dairy industry.
Jon was among several DFA members who visited Capitol Hill and sat down with congressional leaders to address the importance of key issues to dairy farmers they represent. Jon met with the offices of Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.), Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).
“Visiting with legislators is necessary for any regulated industry as it helps ensure that the people representing us on Capitol Hill have good information about our industry and how current government programs are affecting our businesses,” says Jon. “I think it was time well spent where we were able to fill in some gaps and add to their knowledge base about dairy farming and our industry.”
Jon and the other DFA members talked with policymakers about issues affecting the dairy industry, including:
- Trade — USMCA: Export markets are vital to the U.S. dairy sector, with approximately 15% of domestic production reaching global customers. The U.S. dairy industry supports passage of the U.S. – Mexico – Canada Agreement (USMCA), which creates opportunity in the Canadian market and, most importantly preserves the market in Mexico, which is the U.S. dairy industry’s largest export partner. DFA urges Congress to support the passage of USMCA.
- Trade — China: China was the U.S. dairy industry’s fourth-largest export market, accounting for $500 million in sales in 2018. The retaliatory Chinese tariffs resulting from ongoing trade disputes threaten the U.S. dairy industry’s domestic health and ability to expand sales abroad. DFA urges a quick resolution to the China disputes to allow U.S. dairy exports to compete effectively in that market.
- Farm Labor: Dairy producers need a reliable, legal and stable labor force to continue to provide U.S. consumers with a fresh, safe and abundant supply of milk. Because milk is “harvested” twice a day, every day, the dairy industry needs year-round workers. DFA urges passage of an agricultural via program that includes provisions for fall farmers, including those with year-round labor needs, such as the dairy and livestock industries.
- Milk Labeling: Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations (CFR 131.110) define “milk” as a product from a cow, with similar definitions for yogurt and cheese products. Though existing federal policy is clear, FDA has not enforced labeling rules and allowed imitators made from nuts, beans, seeds, and grains, to brand themselves using dairy-specific terms for the past two decades. DFA
1405 N. 98th Street • Kansas City, KS 66111 P: 1-888-332-6455 urges legislators to co-sponsor the DAIRY PRIDE Act, which was introduced by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (Wis.) and Jim Risch (Idaho) and Reps. Peter Welch (Vt.) and Mike Simpson (Idaho). This legislation will force FDA to enforce the current standards of identity.
“It’s important that farmers make their voices heard, and we encourage our members to regularly connect with legislators in their areas,” says Jackie Klippenstein, senior vice president, government, industry and community relations at DFA. “Face-to-face visits are certainly valuable, but you can also make a difference by just sending an email or making a phone call.”