By MITCH LIES
SALEM -- About 100 dairy farmers and supporters came to Salem April 3 to participate in the second biennial Capitol Dairy Day.
Scio dairy farmer Jack Smalley not only participated, he brought 13 Scio FFA students with him.
The students, along with FFA students from Tillamook and Banks, distributed milk, yogurt and grilled cheese sandwiches to lawmakers and learned a little about the workings of the Oregon Legislature, Smalley said.
Cathy Coppini of Tillamook drove to the Capitol with her daughter, Jodi, after completing her morning chores on the dairy.
Coppini met with Rep. Deborah Boone, D-Cannon Beach, and Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose.
"I like her," Coppini said of Johnson, "because you really know where she stands."
Coppini was heading back at 2 p.m. "to do some more chores."
"That's the life of a dairyman," Coppini said.
Pete DeHaan, a Salem dairyman, also was getting ready to head home after meeting with Sen. Brian Boquist, R-Dallas, and Rep. Jim Thompson, R-Dallas.
The legislators "seemed open to our positions," he said.
"But it's a nice day," he said. "I should be at home working."
Oregon State University animal sciences major Matt Jansen, who grew up on a dairy farm in Forest Grove and is a member of the OSU Dairy Club, came to the Capitol "to help out, because I love the dairy industry," he said.
Hayden Bush, an agricultural sciences major at OSU and a member of the Dairy Club, said he came to the Capitol "because there are a lot of bills on the floor right now that are very important to the dairy industry."
Bush and Kurt Vetsch, who works for the Oregon Dairy Products Commission, grilled upwards of 1,500 cheese sandwiches during lunch, which FFA students served to lawmakers and others.
"It seems like a very positive day," said Jerome Rosa, former president of the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association and current member of the state Board of Agriculture. "It seems like the legislators like cheese and milk very much."
Jim Krahn, executive director of the ODFA, said the association sponsors the day to give the industry a bigger presence in Salem and to get producers more comfortable talking to legislators.
"It gives them a chance to talk about how bills affect real people," Krahn said. "And they do a great job at it."