WASHINGTON – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the appointment of 17 members to a federal Dairy Industry Advisory Committee. The members were selected from more than 300 nominations representing producer and producer organizations, processors and processor organizations, handlers, retailers, consumers, academia and state agencies. The committee will hold a public meeting in early 2010.
USDA established the Dairy Industry Advisory Committee in August 2009. The purpose of the Committee is to review the issues of farm milk price volatility and dairy farmer profitability and provide suggestions and ideas to the Secretary on how USDA can best address these issues to meet the dairy industry’s needs.
On January 6, 2010, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the appointment of 17 members to serve on the committee.
Over the next two years, the committee will review the issues of farm milk price volatility, dairy farmer profitability and consolidation, and offer suggestions on ways USDA can best address the needs of a struggling dairy industry. Representatives will include: producers and producer organizations, processors and processor organizations, handlers, consumers, academia, retailers, and state agencies involved in organic and non-organic dairy at the local, regional, national, and international levels.
“USDA has worked tirelessly to assist dairy farmers during these tough times,” said Vilsack. “We’ve increased support prices under the Dairy Product Price Support Program, reactivated the Dairy Export Incentive Program, and bought 200 million pounds of nonfat dry milk for federal feeding programs. This committee, whose members come from all aspects of the dairy industry, will work to find long term solutions to assist this struggling industry.”
Producer members appointed to the committee are: Erick Coolidge (Pa.), Timothy den Dulk (Mich.), Debora Erb (N.H.), James Goodman (Wis.), James Krahn, (Ore.), Edward Maltby (Mass.), Manuel Souza (Calif.), Ed Welch (Minn.), and James Williams (Ga.).
Representatives from the processing industry include: Jay Bryant (Va.), Patricia Stroup (Calif.), Sue Taylor (Colo.), and Robert Wills. (Wis.).
Members representing state government, retail, academia, and consumers are: Rodney Nilsestuen (Wis.), Robert Schupper (Pa.), Andrew Novakovic (N.Y.), and Paul Bourbeau (Vt.).
All members will serve two-year terms, beginning in January 2010, and expiring Jan. 1, 2012. The committee was expanded this year from 15 members to 17 and will hold its first meeting in early 2010. The meeting will be open to the public and USDA encourages public participation.
“I am very honored to receive this appointment from Secretary Vilsack and look forward to working with other committee members from throughout the country to address the challenges facing our industry,” said Western United Dairymen President Ray Souza. “Our industry has been through a very traumatic year and we go into 2010 hoping that working together we can come up with some long-term solutions.”
Souza and his wife Lynette own and operate Mel-Delin Dairy in Turlock. He has served on the WUD Board of Directors for more than 10 years. He is now in his second term as president. He has previously testified on agriculture and dairy issues before the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate and served as an appointee to the USDA /USTR Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee. Additionally he has served on the National Beef Promotion & Research Board and former Gov. Gray Davis’ Ag-Water Transition Team.
Congressman Jim Costa said “Today’s announcement of several Californians being appointed to advisory positions at the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that the Secretary of Agriculture recognizes the important role California plays in U.S. agriculture. I have worked with many of the new appointees for years, some for decades, and I am confident their expertise in California agriculture will be a tremendous benefit for our Valley, state and nation’s farm economy.
Secretary Tom Vilsack made a wise choice in selecting Karen Ross of California as his chief of staff. Karen has been in the agriculture business for 30 years as a farmer. She has worked nationally to improve rural economies by promoting on-farm processing, rural electric cooperatives, and she has promoted agri-tourism. Karen has seen all sides of agriculture and will be a major asset to Secretary Vilsack, USDA, and farmers across our nation.
I also applaud Secretary Vilsack for appointing Valley dairyman Ray Souza to the newly-established Dairy Advisory Committee. Ray is one of our Valley’s best and most respected dairy producers, and has always been a strong advocate on behalf of Valley agriculture. His knowledge of California’s dairy industry will be important to the Secretary on the new Dairy Advisory Committee. “