SALEM — Dairy Day at the Oregon State Capitol on April 4 put a scoop of ice cream on top of dairy industry lobbying efforts during the legislative session.
The Oregon Dairy Farmers Association-sponsored event has been a feature of every legislative session since 2011.
This year the association offered 50 pounds of individual portions of cheese and cheese curds, 30 cases of yogurt, 36 gallons of ice cream and 800 servings of milk.
The free dairy buffet was for the lunchtime benefit of House and Senate members and their staffs, Capitol visitors and others.
Dairies that were represented included the Tillamook County Creamery Association, Organic Valley, Lochmead Dairy, Darigold, Umpqua, Willamette Valley Cheese Co., Oregon State University Creamery, Walla Walla Creamery, Royal Riverside Farm and Lucerne.
ODFA legislative director Tammy Dennee said the group’s statewide membership of producers were told that the event “was a Herculean effort to staff 70 appointments (with legislators) during the day” and urged everyone to “please come.”
Forty volunteers showed up and were split into seven teams to attend the 70 appointments with legislators, she said. After the contacts were made by the ODFA volunteers, followup was provided by Dennee, who is the organization’s sole registered lobbyist.
“The engagement of the producers back to the elected officials is the real core of Dairy Day at the Capitol, so that those officials hear directly from these producers who may be impacted by the discussions that are happening in the Capitol,” Dennee said.
Dairy Day was held just prior to the April 9 legislative deadline, when the number of bills advancing in the legislature was winnowed down significantly.
“When we wake up on the morning of April 10,” Dennee said, “we have a much shorter list of bills to follow.”
The ODFA contingent was working off a two-page listing of “Dairy Day Key Issues at a Glance.”
It listed four bills the industry opposes, nine that it supports and House Bill 2020, the Carbon Reduction bill, on which the industry has taken no position.
“HB 2020 has many moving parts and many unknowns and as many as 54 different amendments that are still in the conversation,” Dennee said. “We advised the legislative body that they really need to take a careful approach, since our energy audit indicates that an increase in energy and transportation costs could be detrimental to the 216 dairy farms currently in Oregon.”
Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Alexis Taylor; Oregon Dairy Princess Ambassador Emily Henry and the owner of Junction City’s Lochmead Dairy, Stephanie Gibson-Hawks, scooped and passed around the featured product, ice cream, to the throng gathered in the Capitol Galleria.