Dairy Speaks in D.C. 2019
Friday, April 12, 2019
Posted by: Aaron Stauffacher, assoc. dir. of govt. affairs
A dozen Edge farmer members took part in an action-packed two-day visit last month to Washington, D.C., to advocate for pro-dairy trade, workforce, farm, nutrition and food policies.
The cooperative’s Dairy Speaks in D.C. events focus on getting our members in front of federal lawmakers, congressional staff and other key decision-makers for face-to-face conversations.
After an insightful day one at the Agri-Pulse Ag and Food Policy Summit, Edge members divided and conquered Capitol Hill on day two. Splitting into four groups, we were able to meet with 21 of Edge’s 31 congressional members’ offices and all four agriculture committee offices. Four of those meetings were introductory visits to freshman members’ offices.
The hot topics were trade and implementation of the farm bill. With many new faces on the Hill, the need to demonstrate to lawmakers the importance of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement for dairy and our rural communities is important. We urged lawmakers to support the trade agreement, shared information on its impact and offered ways to help them convince their colleagues to sign on.
Congressional offices also wanted to gauge interest in the new Dairy Margin Coverage program. Many informed us of their efforts to push the U.S. Department of Agriculture to quickly implement changes made in the farm bill and wanted to know our members’ thoughts on those dairy programs going forward. As the program is rolled out, please contact us to share your experiences so we can pass them on to lawmakers.
Aside from the big-picture discussions, Edge members advocated for two existing bills. The first is the DAIRY Pride Act (S. 792 / H.R. 1769), which would prohibit plant-based products imitating dairy foods from using dairy names. The second proposal is the Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act of 2019 (H.R. 832). This bill would give USDA the authority to allow school lunch programs to provide kids with additional milk options, including regular and flavored whole milk. We are seeking more cosponsors for both bills.
A few farmers ventured away from the Hill to stress the importance of dairy and agricultural export markets to Ambassador Gregg Doud, chief agricultural negotiator in the Office of the United States Trade Representative.
All in all, Edge representatives carried our issues well in D.C. If you want to join in on a future Dairy Speaks in D.C. or want to be more active in Edge’s policy work in other ways, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (608) 482-2438.