I recently had the opportunity to visit Washington DC with 7 classmates to get updates on what is happening in the dairy industry and meet with Legislators. This was an amazing experience! One of our experiences was trying various plant based pruducts that are labeled as milk products. They were not the same! Everyone was encouraged to friend “they don’t got milk” on facebook, which also has a lot of nutritional value comparisons. What are you eating? We also learned what is being done with biotechnology to help fight disease and be more efficient as we try to help feed the world’s growing population. Some of the topics we discussed with Legislators are international trade issues, energy policies, “AgJOBS”, estate tax reform, milk marketing reform and federal milk quality standards.
There is a huge opportunity in the global market, such as S. Korea, for us to market milk. The United States needs to seize these opportunities where we can fulfill a need and boost our export market. We also need to get the situation settled with the stalled truck crossing across the Mexico border, retaliatory actions against the dairy industry are having a huge negative effect.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to meet ever changing environmental regulations. One area of concern that we dicussed are the number of methane digesters that are not in use because of changed air quality regulations that cannot be met and the inability to get the power produced on the grid. If we work together we will all be much more efficient and productive, noone wants to waste time and resources.
Also of concern in the agriculture industry across the country are finding enough employees to fill agricultural jobs. “AgJOBS” would provide a way for foreign employees to work toward permanent status and also train in animal care.
Estate tax reform is vital for the farming industry. Most of our assets are tied up in the land we operate on. If the estate tax reverts back to the $1 mil. exemption and top tax rate of 55% many farmers and small business owners will have to sell of their assets and land to pay these taxes. Our land and assets are already taxed.
It is encouraging that an effort is being made to develop a farm policy cooperatively in the dairy industry before the new farm bill will be implemented in 2012. This is an evolving process and more work needs to be done. We spent quite a bit of time discussing the Foundation for the Future by NMPF.
One last point of interest. Milk Quality Standards are higher in CA, meaning there are more nutrients in our milk (“more milk in our milk”). Under discussion is developing a national milk standard. For mere pennies on the dollar California milk standard could go nationwide. This would be a winning situation for everyone. More nutrition in a smaller serving and it would boost milk prices nationwide.