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Ice Cream Leaders Hit Capitol Hill, Call for Funds to Improve Sustainability, Innovation

Jun 07, 2018

Members of IDFA’s International Ice Cream Association (IICA) board of directors arrived in Washington, D.C., this week to meet with congressional leaders and advocate for the industry’s biggest policy priorities. The leaders stressed the need for Congress to pass an agricultural appropriations bill that includes funds for research on ways to reduce ice cream waste and resources to help ensure federal regulations keep up with industry innovation and food safety needs.

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“The summer heat has hit Washington and Congress’ appropriations process is in full swing. It’s a critical time for IDFA’s ice cream leadership to meet with members of Congress and discuss the policy outcomes this industry needs so it can continue innovating and pursuing sustainable practices,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA president and CEO.

After a briefing Tuesday by the IDFA legislative team, the ice cream executives and IDFA staff met with the House and Senate leaders who are responsible for drafting the agriculture appropriations bill for fiscal year 2019 that funds food programs and services in federal agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The House Committee on Appropriations recently passed its version of the funding bill, which included provisions regarding all of IDFA’s ice cream priorities.

The group told legislators that a final spending bill should allocate funds for research into how best to utilize waste products and reduce a company’s environmental footprint. They also said that the bill should include more financial support for FDA’s Office of Nutrition and Food Labeling so they can modernize the federal standards of identity, regulations distinguishing types of foods, which limit the industry from innovating new dairy products. The IDFA board stressed that FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) also needs more appropriations support to continue providing the industry with necessary food safety guidance.

The group also discussed IDFA’s farm bill priorities, recognizing that the Senate is expected to take up the measure as soon as next week. The House is considering the bill a second time after it failed to garner enough votes as conservatives demanded an unrelated vote on immigration.

A Packed Schedule

The 12-person group is scheduled to meet with the following legislators:

  • Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., chairman, House Subcommittee on Agriculture;
  • Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., member, Senate Committee on Appropriations;
  • Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., chairman of the Subcommittee on Department of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education, and member, Senate Subcommittee on Agriculture;
  • Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, and senior member, Senate Agriculture and Senate Finance Committees;
  • Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., member, Senate Agriculture and Appropriations Committees;
  • Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., ranking member, House Agriculture Committee;
  • Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., member, House Committee on Appropriations and House Subcommittee on Agriculture;
  • Rep. Charles Ruppersberger, D-Md., member, House Committee on Appropriations; and
  • Rep. David G. Valadao, R-Calif., member, House Committee on Appropriations and House Subcommittee on Agriculture.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., hosted an ice cream social in the U.S. Capitol, concluding the fly-in.

Dairy Decision-Makers

The IICA board members and other fly-in participants are:

  • Russell Coleman, executive vice president, general counsel, Dean Foods Company.
  • Ricky Dickson, president, Blue Bell Creameries, L.P.;
  • Anne Divjak, senior director, government and industry relations, Dean Foods Company;
  • Rich Draper, CEO, The Ice Cream Club, Inc.;
  • Heather Draper, director, The Ice Cream Club, Inc.;
  • Ken Jorgensen, director, Dairy Operations, H-E-B;
  • Andrei Mikhalevsky, president and CEO, California Dairies, Inc.; 
  • Chris Olsen, vice president, community and government relations – Americas, Tate & Lyle Custom Ingredients, L.L.C.;
  • Brian Perry, executive vice president and chairman, Perry's Ice Cream Company, Inc.;
  • Alan Poff, vice president, government and community affairs, Schwan's Company;
  • Stan Ryan, president and CEO, Darigold Inc.;
  • Alan Thomsen, president and CEO, Schoep's Ice Cream Co., Inc.; and
  • Mike Wells, president and CEO, Wells Enterprises, Inc.

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“As the House and Senate appropriations committees continue their efforts to pass the agricultural appropriations bill, this is the perfect time for IDFA to strategically deploy its member company leaders on Capitol Hill, sharing stories about how these critical policy issues directly affect their companies and communities,” said Dave Carlin, IDFA senior vice president of economic policy and legislative affairs. “When the dairy industry bands together, Congress listens.”

Capitol Hill Ice Cream Party

The culminated Wednesday afternoon with IDFA’s Capitol Hill Ice Cream Party, which served more than 1,500 gallons of ice cream and thousands of root beer floats adjacent to the U.S. Capitol.

IDFA has hosted the party for 36 years to bring together members of Congress, their families, staff and other special guests to enjoy scoops of ice cream from IDFA member companies. The party grows in size each year, and is a valuable opportunity for the association to showcase dairy industry products to federal policymakers.

For more information, contact Carlin at

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