Mooney, who also serves as board chair of Dairy Farmers of America, one of the nation’s largest dairy cooperatives, addressed several other issues in his speech:
- On immigration, he said, “dairy farmers in every region of the country face the same dilemma. It’s hard to find good help, and the nation’s labor and immigration policies are a hindrance.” The Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill, passed this summer, “would be of particular benefit to dairy farmers, since it addresses both our current workers and our future employees.” But the House strategy of pursuing a series of smaller measures hasn’t resulted in any bills reaching the floor. “If reform efforts drag on into 2014, it will be challenging to maintain the momentum needed for a legislative solution,” Mooney said.
- On humane animal care, Mooney said most of the criticisms leveled at livestock producers are “sparked by the hard-core animal rights crowd that wants to do away with meat and milk consumption.”But these criticisms can also affect the views of mainstream consumers, who “don’t know the realities of today’s dairy industry,” Mooney said. In response, NMPF has launched an effort to continuously improve animal care, while also measuring the conscientious care that dairy farmers are already providing. Participation now exceeds 70 percent of the nation’s milk supply, Mooney said.
- On the proliferation of imitation dairy products, Mooney said NMPF is continuing to urge the Food and Drug Administration to crack down on the misuse of dairy terms. “The terms ‘milk,’ ‘cheese,’ ‘yogurt,’ and ‘ice cream’ should be used only for foods that come from cows,” he said. In addition, NMPF is revitalizing the iconic REAL® Seal logo to educate a new generation of consumers about the benefits of real milk. “In contrast to the 1980s, when the Seal was first advertized using print ads, we’re using today’s technology—digital advertising and platforms like Facebook—to get people interested in real dairy foods, and what the REAL® Seal means to them,” Mooney said.