Advocating and Engaging at Legislative Events

Striding through the first quarter of 2024, the political landscape beckons with promises of change, progress, and pivotal decisions. Attending legislative events during this time offers a unique opportunity to engage with the heartbeat of democracy, where policies are shaped, debated, and enacted. To date, MDVA has seized on this opportunity numerous times, participating in several key gatherings alongside esteemed leaders and stakeholders with the goal of fostering relationships and promoting the U.S. dairy industry.

Governor Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania speaks with MDVA’s Jay Bryant and Mike John at Public Officials Day at the PA Farm Show in January. Photo courtesy Commonwealth Media.

One significant event attended by MDVA was the Pennsylvania Farm Show, an opportunity that came to fruition due to our leadership in Pennsylvania’s dairy industry. MDVA CEO Jay Bryant had the privilege of introducing U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack during Public Officials Day at the Show. Jay also sat alongside Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro and Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding during the event.

In Maryland, MDVA Board members Matt Hoff and Matt Toms represented our cooperative at the Maryland Agriculture Council’s Taste of Maryland Event. This event served as a platform to celebrate Maryland’s agricultural bounty and provided MDVA with the opportunity to engage with key decision-makers about Maryland’s dairy industry, including Maryland Governor Wes Moore and Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Kevin Atticks.

We were also in attendance at the Virginia Agribusiness Council (VAC) Legislative Appreciation Banquet held in Richmond, Virginia. Lindsay Reames, EVP of Sustainability and External Relations, currently serves as chair of the VAC, which serves as the unified voice of agribusiness for the state. Lindsay presided over the banquet, which featured remarks from Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin and Virginia Secretary of Agriculture & Forestry Matt Lohr. Additionally, Maola Milk, a head sponsor of the event, was shared abundantly with the event’s more than 1000 attendees.

Virginia State Senator Timmy French (Left), a MDVA Member, Hollis Reames (Middle) and MDVA staffer Virginia Funk (R) look on as an attendee picks up a Maola Milk during the Beef and Dairy day at the Virginia State Capitol on February 9.

Continuing our government relations in Virginia, Maola Milk was given prime real estate during Virginia Beef & Dairy Day at the General Assembly. The Virginia Dairymen’s Association and Virginia Cattlemen’s Association provided steak sandwiches, ice cream, and fresh Maola Milk to more than 600 government leaders including Governor Youngkin, Secretary Lohr, and Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Joseph Guthrie. Newly elected state Senator Timmy French, an MDVA member-owner, joined in to distribute milk, emphasizing the importance of dairy products in our communities.

MDVA and Maola Milk’s active participation in these events demonstrates our commitment to advocating for our farmer-owned dairy cooperative at all levels of government.

By engaging with government leaders, collaborating with industry stakeholders, and sponsoring key events, MDVA continues to be a driving force in shaping policies that support dairy farmers and the broader dairy supply chain. As we look ahead, MDVA remains dedicated to promoting the interests of our members and contributing to the growth and sustainability of the dairy sector.