Times are tough for farmers across the nation, who are suffering through everything from low milk prices to severe labor shortages. Now, more than ever, dairy producers of all sizes – and the allied businesses that support them – are seeing how federal policy, such as immigration executive actions, EPA overregulation and more, directly impact the future viability of our businesses.
It is time to ask yourself, “What am I doing to make sure I am protected?” As a producer, how do you plan to protect yourself from activist attacks, labor walk-offs or falling milk prices? As an allied business owner, what are you doing to protect your customers and ensure they can continue to grow their businesses?
Grant Grinstead from Vir-Clar Farms in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and a member of the American Dairy Coalition, summed it up best, “No labor equals no cows. No cows equals no cheese. No cheese equals no industry.”
The American Dairy Coalition (ADC) represents approximately 30,000 dairy producers across the country. We are supported by state and national associations, and through their membership, their producer members’ voices are being heard on Capitol Hill. Major allied industry businesses across the country, from credit services to feed companies, have joined ADC to ensure the needs of their most loyal customers (dairy producers) are being protected and understood by legislators.
The nation’s most motivated and innovative producers, who refuse to stand by and be told how to run their businesses by those who have never set foot on a dairy farm, have made the important decision to protect themselves by supporting ADC. Through the alliance of so many motivated and dedicated supporters, ADC has already succeeded in making Section 179 permanent, bringing billions of dollars to farmers, ranchers, processors and agriculture businesses by increasing expensing from $25,000 to $500,00 per year.
In the coming year, ADC has committed itself to:
- Securing a reliable labor force
- Streamlining environmental regulations
- Improving rural access to technology, health care and infrastructure
- Providing producer protection from animal activists
- Improving the Margin Protection Program (MPP) in the next Farm Bill
- Increasing the export of dairy products and agriculture commodities
Many dairy producers are afraid to expand their businesses, fearing they will not have the workforce to milk their current herds. The fact is the U.S. domestic labor force does not want to milk cows, despite rising wages and increasing benefits dairy owners are offering. The dairy industry is at a crossroads. If the U.S. is to be the supplier of the world’s dairy products and keep up with the demand of a growing global population, dairy producers must have access to a secure, legal workforce. There is no “one size fits all” approach to immigration reform; therefore, ADC is supporting several legislative tools that will help farmers grow and expand with confidence.
To make these goals a reality and push real reform across the finish line, more support is needed. You can help by asking your local, national and state associations to support the American Dairy Coalition. Ask your vendors what they have done to ensure their producer customers can continue to operate their businesses. Ask fellow dairy producers what steps they have taken to protect themselves from labor walk-offs, environmental legal issues or activist attacks. Together we will stand up for the future of the industry.
Laurie Fischer is president of the American Dairy Coalition. Email Laurie Fischer.