NMPF will conduct a series of listening sessions next year for dairy farmers across the country, with the intent of developing a consensus approach to the dairy-related policy items that Congress should include in the 2007 Farm Bill.

The meetings will be called the Dairy Producer Conclave 2006, and will be modeled after similar meetings that NMPF organized six years ago. That Conclave process produced a multi-faceted consensus statement that represented one of the most thorough examinations ever undertaken of the future of dairy farm policy.

The Conclave meetings in 2006 will be held in three cities: Sacramento, CA, on Jan. 30-31st; Chicago, IL, on Feb. 2-3rd; and Reston, VA, on Feb. 6-7th.

Invitations to those regional sessions will be sent to dairy producers at a variety of state, regional and national farm groups, including dairy cooperatives, state associations, breed associations, and national advocacy associations. The process will emphasize getting farmers to share their opinions with fellow farmers, focusing on key issues of importance to the national dairy producer community.

"The conclave meeting process in 2000 was absolutely essential in helping unite dairy farmers and their local and national organizations behind a farm policy blueprint that was successfully reflected in the 2002 Farm Bill," said Jerry Kozak, President and CEO of NMPF. "With the USDA and Congress about to begin consideration of what the next Farm Bill should look like, we in the dairy business need to take the lead by letting farmers talk with one another about what they'd like to see happen with dairy policy."

In the spring of 2000, more than 400 farmers - representing 86 separate farm organizations around the country - met to review and discuss a range of national issues, including Economic Policy, Trade Policy, Animal Health & Care, Environment, Product Standards, Biotechnology, Food Safety, Communications and Issues Management, and Business Issues.

A copy of the Conclave booklet containing specific recommendations can be downloaded at: www.nmpf.org/files/PDF_Electronic_Booklet.pdf