Executives from dozens of IDFA member companies met with congressional leaders and staff last Wednesday and Thursday to discuss key dairy policy issues, including food safety legislation, reauthorization of federal nutrition programs and milk pricing volatility. The executives were in town to attend IDFA's annual Washington Conference and the 27th Annual Ice Cream Party on Capitol Hill.
Addressing attendees at the Insiders Breakfast last Thursday, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan outlined Secretary Tom Vilsack's top priorities and highlighted some of the challenges and rewards she's faced during her two months on the job. Merrigan shared her concern about the impact of the economic downturn on dairy farmers and welcomed close collaboration across the dairy industry to make the U.S. Department of Agriculture more responsive to the industry.
Also during the breakfast, Rep. David Scott (D-GA), chair of the Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Subcommittee of the House Agriculture Committee, acknowledged that the dairy industry is one of the most regulated industries in the country, "perhaps second only to the banking industry." He said the current federal milk pricing system is out of date and pledged to listen to all segments of the industry on how it could be improved. In addition, Chairman Scott announced that a hearing on dairy policy would be held this July.
While in Washington, the attendees had additional opportunities to meet with other top officials from USDA, as well as legislators from their home states.
IDFA would like to thank the sponsors who helped to make last week's Washington Conference and Capitol Hill Ice Cream Party such a success. IDFA staff members offered more than 1,600 gallons of ice cream, frozen yogurt and sherbet topped with 44 cases of sundae syrups to thousands of congressional leaders, their families and staff at this year's party.
Thank You, 2009 Washington Conference Sponsors!
American Beverage Association
Friendly Ice Cream Corporation
Galliker Dairy Company
Jack & Jill Ice Cream Company
The J.M. Smucker Company
Mayfield Dairy Farms, Inc.
Perry's Ice Cream Company, Inc.
Pierre's French Ice Cream Company
Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc.
Publix Super Markets, Inc.
Turkey Hill Dairy
Wells' Dairy, Inc.