Paul Sousa Turlock, California Director of Environmental Services Western United Dairymen

What education are you bringing with you to this position?
I attended Modesto Junior College and went to University of California – Davis where I got a degree in environmental resource science.

Please describe your agricultural background.
I grew up on a dairy (A & M De Sousa Dairy) in Turlock, California, where my father and two brothers dairy today on two dairies. I was involved with the dairy growing up, primarily working summers.

What territory will you cover?
All of California


What are your new responsibilities?
Dealing with policy regarding environmental issues for California dairies.

What previous positions have you held?
I worked for the University of California Cooperative Extension as my first job after graduating, working on water quality issues like irrigation return flows and sediment.

After that, I worked on our family dairy for a year. Then I went to the regional water quality control board, where I enforced federal and state regulations for water quality on confined animal facilities. I worked there for about five years.

At that time, my family was starting second dairy – Sousa Family Dairy – so I left my job with the state and came back to Turlock and worked for a year managing the new start-up dairy. Almost seven years ago, I came to Western United Dairymen (WUD) as an environmental specialist. Now, with the retirement of Paul Martin, I have moved up to be director of environmental services.

What excites you most about working in your new role?
The possibility to get into more of the policy issues. The job isn’t new – I worked closely with Martin and he and I have handed off certain aspects of the job – but I’ll be dealing with policy at a higher level. That’s the new aspect to me.

There are other aspects that I will continue to do, such as working with dairymen regarding their individual issues due to regulatory inspections.

I also work closely with our environmental services division, which was started in 2007 as a fee-for-service company when a major regulation was adopted and WUD saw consultants flocking in from all over the country to get some of that business.

The board decided to form the fee-for-services company to control the costs of consulting for the dairy producers. I have been very involved with that since it started – I trained the staff and continue to be a resource for them.

How will you be of most help to producers in your region or area of expertise?
Working for almost five years as a regulator has given me invaluable experience and knowledge of how that process works so I can help dairymen deal with regulations and wade through that process.

That’s something I’ve been doing and will continue to do, to streamline the process for dairy producers in order to minimize the cost of those regulations to them. Having the family farm background, I understand where they’re coming from, how regulatory costs affect dairies and how they’re able to absorb – or not absorb – those costs.

Why did you accept this promotion?
I really enjoy working with dairy producers on this level and I enjoy working on environmental issues. This job combines those two.

With my family being involved in that [the dairy industry], I’m looking out for my family in a way – and for all dairy producers in the same way. I enjoy working with a hard-working bunch of folks who are very honest and have very high standards. I enjoy doing whatever I can to help them out and keep them viable and productive.

What goals would you like to accomplish while in this position?
My goal is self-improvement in my new position to address the new [policy] issues that I’m going to be handling. A lot of it’s been ongoing and I’m familiar with it, so it’ll be more about getting better at doing that new aspect of the job. PD