SDC to serve as regional steering committee and affiliate with DPAC on national dairy policy
By Sherry Bunting, Farmshine, Sept. 17, 2010
ATLANTA, Ga.—As a follow up to the August 5 multi-state meeting in Athens, Tennessee, dairy producers from Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas returned to the table on Sept. 9—this time in Atlanta, Georgia—where they voted to form the Southeast Dairy Coalition.
Three producers from Florida, and one from Alabama, who had attended the August meeting in Tennessee, were unable to make the September meeting in Georgia; however, they each indicated their keen interest to participate as the coalition moves forward. The group is also reaching out to South Carolina and Louisiana to bring the number of states to 11.
On regional issues, the Southeast Dairy Coalition (SDC) will serve as a steering committee bringing together multiple Southeast organizations. On national issues, SDC will provide a communications link and be affiliated with the Dairy Policy Action Coalition (DPAC), whom they thanked for inspiring them to come together as a regional assembly of dairy producers.
Dr. Ben Shelton, a North Carolina dairy producer and veterinarian, was elected to chair the SDC. They also agreed on one producer from each state to form the core working group.
Three DPAC board members—Cliff Hawbaker and Rob Barley, both of Pennsylvania, and Alan Kozak of Ohio—traveled to Atlanta to participate in the meeting, which focused on establishing a vehicle for the region’s producers to get organized and represent themselves in the policy decisions that will affect their combined futures.
By the end of the day, several Southeast producers were also appointed to DPAC action groups: Steve Harrison of Loudon, Tenn. will serve on the supply management action group and Roger Jefferson of Chatham, Va., on the milk marketing models subcommittee. Jack Fritz, Springfield, Tenn., already serves on the milk pricing action group.
“We need to support DPAC on the national issues that affect all of us, even if we haven’t figured out exactly what to do on our regional issues,” Shelton said. “We see these issues like training as a diver in the Olympics: A lot of work and preparation for a three-second dive.”
“This is not an event. It is a process,” said Hawbaker. “DPAC’s purpose is to take the ideas of dairy farmers and focus on those things we agree on around the U.S. Truth and transparency is a core issue at the national level, and we are looking to the Southeast Dairy Coalition to surface the issues that concern your region.”