Indiana Dairy Producers will be meeting soon to share ideas and discuss policy priorities for this year’s federal farm bill.
“We try very hard to be a united voice for dairy farmers in Indiana,” says Arie de Jong (shown above) with de Jong Family Farms in Jasper County. He’s also the President of Indiana Dairy Producers. The organization is hosting the Indiana Dairy Forum 2023 at the French Lick Springs Hotel on Feb. 7 and 8.
“It’s for dairy farmers to come together to socialize and to listen to various speakers with lots of information that’ll be useful to dairy farmers to bring back to their farms,” says de Jong.
Also during the forum, de Jong says Indiana Dairy Producers will discuss policy priorities for 2023 – including those for this year’s federal farm bill.
“One of the biggest things in the farm bill for dairy farmers specifically is a price formula change that took effect in 2018 without input from dairy farmers,” according to de Jong. “That ended up backfiring very badly on dairy farmers. When the pandemic hit, it caused huge price swings that had significant negative consequences. In 2018, no one would have seen that coming. It walloped dairy farmers of all sizes. That needs to be adjusted or countered so that that does not happen again.”
He adds that Indiana Dairy Producers are also pushing for labor reform to help with labor shortages in the dairy industry.
“Clearly the current policies are broken,” says de Jong. “It’s just very challenging, whether you’re a small dairy farmer or a large dairy farmer, to supply the labor that you need. We want to do this to better our workers, as well as our farms, and try to get labor reform that makes sense for all sized dairies and agriculture as a whole.”
Looking ahead, De Jong says he’s optimistic about the long-term success of Indiana’s dairy industry.
“It may be challenging in the near term in 2023, but people need to eat and they need to drink,” says de Jong. “Milk and dairy are the most nutritious products out there – and for that matter, it tastes fabulous! Everybody loves ice cream and milk, so it looks good long-term, but it will be challenging in the short-term as we’re all dealing with labor shortages in every industry.”
Click HERE for more information about the Indiana Dairy Forum 2023.