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News & Media: Staff Columns

DBMMC takes your concerns, priorities to D.C.

Monday, July 17, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: John Holevoet, director of government affairs
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Seven dairy farmers joined co-op staff and our D.C.-based lobbying team for a two-day event in Washington in late June. This event gave us the opportunity to raise the co-op’s profile on Capitol Hill and draw attention to DBMMC’s main policy priorities.

This was a first-of-its-kind event for the co-op. While many of our members have connected with their members of Congress, this was the first time DBMMC organized such a “fly-in.” We were guided through the process by Michael Torrey, our new man on the ground in D.C., and his team of lobbying professionals. They have deep connections to agriculture and decades of experience dealing with the federal government.

Fly-in attendees covered 24 meetings in 24 hours. They had the chance to share personal insights from their farms, which could inform the discussion about important national issues like trade, regulatory reform and a sustainable workforce for agriculture.

During the event, teams of farmers met with congressional leaders from most of the states where DBMMC has members, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin. Staff were able to close the loop after our farmers left for home by meeting with South Dakota Congresswoman Kristi Noem. This meant we met with at least one person who represented every one of our co-op members.

DBMMC staff also had the opportunity to sit down at the U.S. Trade Representative's offices with the director for international trade and environmental policy, who is also the person leading agriculture policy matters in NAFTA. In the meeting, DBMMC staff explained the importance of NAFTA to the dairy community, talked through our recent comments on potential NAFTA renegotiations and shared insights on the recent dairy-centric trade issues with Canada.

The entire group, farmers and staff met with staff from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Topics included the importance of trade to dairy, the need for a reliable workforce and the role USDA could play in regulatory reform. We hope to have the chance to communicate some of these same concerns directly to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue later.

While in Washington, DBMMC staff also met with a host of other dairy and agriculture groups. We cannot obtain a good outcome for farmers without the help of partners.

Our schedule was busy and our meetings were productive. These are both hallmarks of a successful trip to D.C., but this was just one step of many. We will continue to work aggressively toward our policy goals to ensure success for our dairy farms.

It was a privilege for me to help amplify dairy farmers’ voices in our nation’s capital. However, the most talented staff person cannot have anywhere near the same impact that you do in talking with your elected representatives.

There will be future opportunities locally, at the state level and in Washington. We are asking for your help to build on our strengths. If you would like to get more involved, please contact me at jholevoet@widba.com or (608) 358-3941.


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