Edge joined several other agricultural organizations in sending a letter to the House of Representatives Ways & Means Committee expressing support for the timely implementation of the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement, phase-one. Earlier this fall the administration reached a partial agricultural trade agreement that would expand U.S. dairy product access to Japan. The administration would like to make this deal a more comprehensive pact in the future. Because it is only a partial deal, the administration’s position is that agreement does not have to be approved by Congress. The agreement was a priority of dairy and many other ag commodities after the U.S. pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) and the remaining countries moved the comprehensive agreement forward. Japan has also signed another free trade agreement with the European Union, a leading dairy exporter competitor to the U.S.
Edge comments on the proposed
FARM Animal Version 4.0 recommended standards
March 30, 2019
Edge recently submitted comments on proposed revisions to the National Dairy FARM (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management) Program. The FARM Technical Writing Group and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) Animal Health and Well-Being Committee put forward their recommendations on what would be FARM Version 4.0. The program was rolled out in 2009. After the comment period was announced in late February, Edge urged our members to directly comment on the website and also solicited our members’ thoughts and opinions on the proposed standards. Edge’s comments reflected the wide-ranging feedback we received from our farmers. First, we cautioned the committees to not get ahead of what consumers understand about animal care and thus demand from our farmers in the program. Another concern we addressed was the increasing amount of written protocols proposed in the draft 4.0 standards. Edge is proud to provide a unified voice for our farmers on this issue. After a review of the submitted comments, the NMPF Board of Directors is scheduled to vote on the proposed Version 4.0 in coming months.
Edge urges an end to tariffs against Canada & Mexico
January 23, 2019
Edge joined a broad group of farm organizations and food processing interests in urging Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to act immediately to eliminate steel and aluminum tariffs against Canada and Mexico, our two closest trading partners. These tariffs, imposed under the pretext of national security concerns by the White House, resulted in retaliatory tariffs that have seriously harmed food and agricultural trade between our three countries. The letter urges a return to tariff-free trade in North America. This change will not only boost our exports, but it is essential to the passage of USMCA trade agreement.
Edge and other ag groups seek fair trade deal with EU
December 18, 2018
53 groups, including Edge, which represent almost every segment of the agricultural economy sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer asking that he ensures any trade agreement with the European Union is comprehensive and works towards an outcome that removes all tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade. We do not want agriculture left behind if we are able to sign a deal with the Europeans. To have an agreement that promotes truly fair trade, we must remove non-tariff barriers that disadvantage many U.S. ag exports. This includes restrictions on common food product names and unreasonable restrictions regarding products that are the result of bioengineering. Increasing trade would be great, but ag needs the deal done right.
Edge comments on the Food and Drug Administration's Nutrition Innovation Strategy
October 11, 2018
Associate Director of Government Affairs Aaron Stauffacher prepared and submitted written comments on the FDA’s far reaching Nutrition Innovation Strategy. His comments focused on the need for FDA to act regarding the mislabeling of plant-based dairy imitations. While most people who consume these items might understand they are not actually consuming real milk, cheese or ice cream, the public is still being misled that these imitation products are nutritionally similar to legitimate dairy products. In addition, Edge also called for more innovation in dairy products, which would better help people get their recommended daily servings of dairy. This focus on innovation also included a request to modernize the standards of identity to allow for the use of microfiltered milk in cheesemaking.
Stauffacher previously testified regarding the Nutrition Innovation Strategy at a public hearing on July 26. He was one of just a handful of dairy farmer voices at that hearing. You can read a copy of his prepared testimony here and listen to his comments here. Again, his focus was on the co-op’s labeling concerns.
Edge participates in roundtable discussion on tariffs
August 9, 2018
Congressman Ron Kind, who represents the southwest portion of Wisconsin in the House of Representatives, invited Edge to participate in a Rural Economy Roundtable. The focus of the meeting was the impact of new tariffs on agriculture and rural manufacturers. Edge was represented at the meeting by Associate Director of Government Affairs Aaron Stauffacher. Read this letter from Congressman Kind thanking him for his participation.
During the roundtable, Edge emphasized the importance of increasing market access, not heading in the opposite direction. The group also discussed proposals for a government relief package to offset some of the negative impact farmers have experienced because of the tariffs. Additionally, the overall health of dairy community was talked about as well as what could be done to better support dairy farmers.
Edge signs onto letter urging action on milk labeling
July 6, 2018
Edge joined several state Farm Bureau’s and a handful of other dairy organizations in writing a letter to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. The letter was also sent to several key staff at FDA and the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions and the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee. In the letter, the groups called on Commissioner Gottlieb to enforce the existing law regarding how milk is defined and to stop misleading labeling by plant-based products that do not fit that definition. This letter adds to the growing pressure on FDA to take action on this subject.
Edge, other dairy groups work together to defeat
proposed raw milk amendment
May 17, 2018
Edge joined with the National Milk Producers Federation, International Dairy Foods Association and several other dairy groups to oppose a proposed amendment to the House farm bill that would have ended the ban on interstate sales of raw milk. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) proposed the controversial measure. In a letter to House leadership, the concerned dairy groups explained their opposition to Massie’s amendment and highlighted the health risks associated with consuming raw milk. The letter was also circulated to other House offices. The amendment ultimately failed by a wide margin. The vote was 331 to 79.
Edge raises awareness of NAFTA's importance to dairy
April 1, 2018
Edge's Associate Director of Government Affairs, Aaron Stauffacher, penned a letter to the editor about the importance of NAFTA and trade to the United States' dairy economy. Mexico is a critically important export market for dairy products. As the debate over how to renegotiate NAFTA heats up, it is important that we keep the focus on how good the agreement has been for us and how losing it would be unacceptable.
In his letter, Stauffacher also references a meeting held by the U.S. Small Business Administration to discuss NAFTA that he attended on behalf of co-op members. This is just one of several ways that Edge is trying to raise the dairy community's profile in the NAFTA discussions. The letter to the editor is another. It was submitted to newspapers throughout the region and was picked up by several, including the Capital Times in Madison.
Omnibus bill contains provisions important to farmers
March 23, 2018
Brody Stapel, president of Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, spoke out about the inclusion of three important farm provisions in the federal omnibus funding bill.
The bill, approved by the Senate and House, awaits President Trump’s signature. Approval is needed to avoid a government shutdown.
Two of the items that would affect farmers are in the bill language, which will give them the power of law, and one is in the accompanying report language, which includes non-binding directives that help to clarify legislative intent and guide government agencies.
Six of our member farmers and several staff members are in Washington D.C. to meet with federal lawmakers and agency leaders about the needs of our farmers.
We are working alongside our D.C.-based consultant Michael Torrey & Associates.
Today, we are holding 21 meetings with lawmakers and their staffs representing our members’ states to explain the challenges our farmers face each day while working hard to create the safe and nutritious milk that feeds so many people in the U.S. and other countries. We’ll also be meeting with representatives of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The key issues we are raising:
A sustainable workforce
Trade and more access to foreign markets
Highly functional federal dairy programs
Protection and promotion of dairy products
Environmental regulation and sustainable innovation
Mitch Davis, Edge board treasurer, talks about what dairy needs out of trade at Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc. Ag and Food Policy Summit in Washington, D.C.
Edge reaches out to leaders in Washington, D.C. about NAFTA
March 20, 2018
Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative President Brody Stapel sent letters underscoring the importance of trade to America’s dairy farmers, especially during this period of prolonged low milk prices. These letters were sent to United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer, Ambassador Gregg Doud (the chief agriculture negotiator at USTR) and various members of Congress that represent districts where Edge members farm.
Read the letter that was sent to Ambassador Doud on March 20. You can also read the response he sent back to President Stapel on behalf of himself and USTR Lighthizer. In his response, Ambassador Doud emphasized the importance of making gains for ag exports, including dairy exports, in NAFTA and championed the possibility of other new trade agreements that could expand market access for farmers.
DBMMC Works to Protect Agriculture Programs from Budget Cuts
Feb. 21, 2017
Together with a coalition of other groups, DBMMC sent a letter to the chairpersons of U.S. House and Senate Committees on Budget and Appropriations. The groups that signed the letter, including our co-op, oppose additional cuts to agriculture programs as part of the upcoming budget process. The letter explains this is not because agriculture is unwilling to do its part during tight budgetary times. Rather, agriculture programs have already been cut significantly in the last farm bill, which was designed to achieve $23 billion in deficit reduction over the course of ten years. Any significant new cuts to these programs, which are generally run in an efficient and lean manner, could be very harmful.
DBMMC Joins Other Ag Groups to Support Sonny Perdue's Nomination
Feb. 2, 2017
The co-op added its name to a letter supporting the nomination of Sonny Perdue to serve as the next secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Perdue was a strong advocate for agriculture during his time in the Georgia legislature and as governor of that state. He is also a veterinarian by training. In the letter, hundreds of groups representing all aspects of agriculture urge the senate to quickly approve Perdue’s nomination. The top job at USDA was among the last high-level nominations made by President Trump, so a speedy approval process is even more important to ensuring that USDA has the leadership it needs.
DBMMC Staff Attends NCFC Government Affairs Conference
Nov. 14, 2016
Our co-op is a member of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC). NCFC is a national group of farmer-led co-ops that represents virtually every aspect of agricultural production in the United States. DBMMC is represented on NCFC’s Government Affairs committee. This meeting is focused on analyzing the outcome of the recent election and its impact on issues important to farmer co-ops. The group will also discuss policy priorities for NCFC in the coming year, including items like labor, trade, and transportation.
Co-op Urges Congressman Sensenbrenner to Support TPP
Nov. 8, 2016
Improving access to global markets for our dairy products is essential to long-term growth in the dairy sector. It is no coincidence that record high milk prices coincided with record high dairy exports. Expanding opportunities for trade is a major policy goal of DBMMC. While the future of TPP is uncertain, the co-op is doing its part to encourage members of Congress that have not made up their mind yet regarding TPP to support the agreement’s passage. Congressman Sensenbrenner is one of those Congressman. See the co-op’s letter to him here. More broadly, DBMMC wants to encourage support for other existing and future trade deals.
DBMMC Opposes EPA’s Attack on Atrazine Use
Sept. 1, 2016
Atrazine is a valuable tool for dairy farmers growing their own crops to feed their cattle and other row crop farmers that help to supply us with our feed. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just released a new draft ecological risk assessment regarding atrazine. EPA’s work is contrary to a wealth of other studies that show current atrazine use is safe. EPA solicited comments regarding their new draft document. DBMMC opposes unnecessary regulations on worthwhile technology like atrazine. Together with many other agricultural groups, we are submitting comments critical of EPA’s work on this issue and supportive of continued use of atrazine. You can read our co-op’s comments here.