ELLICOTT CITY, Md. – Environmental scientist, social influencer, and dairy farmer Tara Vander Dussen closed out Maryland & Virginia’s Milk Producers Cooperative Association’s (MDVA) first-ever Leadership Conference on Tuesday (March 29), which brought together more than 150 MDVA members to learn from dairy industry experts.
“When it comes to that old red barn, today the barn may be different, but the families behind the barn are the same,” Vander Dussen told members during her keynote address. “Now more than ever is the time for us as farmers for us to say ‘we’re here and we’re your farmers. What questions do you have for us?’”
Earlier in the day, members had the opportunity to go inside their cooperative to learn how their brand, Maola Milk, is being marketed as the local and sustainable choice for milk by consumers. Members also had the chance to learn about the operations at MDVA’s five processing plants and how member-funded improvements have been instrumental in increasing the volume and quantity of products produced by MDVA.
The morning session concluded with a panel of MDVA members that discussed employment practices on farms of all sizes and how to best bridge divides that may exist between cultures.
During lunch, members heard from the Honorable Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Agriculture, via recorded remarks as he updated members on recent movements by Congress to assist the dairy industry.
The afternoon session featured an analysis of dairy markets, Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) program training, and a legislative and regulatory update on issues impacting the dairy industry.
“Our first-ever Leadership Conference was a success,” Executive Vice President for Sustainability and External Relations Lindsay Reames said. “We strive to bring added value to our members and opportunities like the ones here today to hear from well-respected industry professionals, including our own members and employees, allow our members to understand their business and the entire dairy supply chain.”
The Leadership Conference is part of the cooperative’s 102nd Annual Meeting, which concluded today (Wednesday) with the formal business meeting and election of officers.
Photo Caption: Keynote Speaker Tara Vander Dussen, better known as the New Mexico Milkmaid, tells MDVA members that “Now more than ever is the time for us as farmers for us to say ‘we’re here and we’re your farmers. What questions do you have for us?’”
Contact: Amanda Culp, Director of Communications and Member Services