Chad and Kindra Carlson and family
Carlson Dairy, LLP (Curtney & Louise Carlson, Chad & Kindra Carlson, Carl & Kellie Carlson)
*Extended comments are highlighted in blue.
It’s true, our family’s conversations around our farm do not often center on politics. We’d even admit that there’s a collective sigh of relief after the November elections and we’re no longer bombarded with political messages and ads.
With that said, we do agree that, like it or not, as dairy producers we are very much affected by politics and policy, and we have a real stake in the political world.
Because of the large turkey processing industry in west central Minnesota, our local community has a large and growing population of Hispanics and Somalis. Many are hard workers and committed to taking care of their families.
We believe immigration reform is very important for the dairy industry and for communities like ours throughout the U.S. We’d like to see immigration reform at the federal level with a more comprehensive guest worker program. This should not be left to the individual states.
There’s been much debate over supply management. Our family is opposed to a national milk supply management program. We believe in the value of a free-enterprise system where supply and demand dictate milk supply. Had there been a supply management program in place when we expanded in 2000 and 2008, we wouldn’t have been able to take the necessary steps to support our three families and make our farm more profitable.
While traveling in our van during the holidays this past year, our oldest son shared an interesting fact from the “Weird But True” page in the National Geographic Kids magazine he was reading: “The average American drinks 43,300 cans of soda in their lifetime. That’s enough to fill four large fire trucks.” While we already knew that Americans drank a lot of pop, that point really hit home with us and our kids that day.
There is a huge opportunity for us to continue to find more ways to replace the pop and other beverage markets with milk products. A key focus is our schools.
One of this year’s Minnesota Milk Producers’ legislative priorities is “Healthy Choices in School.” This initiative promotes improved access in school lunch lines, vending machines and stores to foods that contribute to a healthy diet, such as high-quality milk. It limits access to those foods and beverages which do not support healthy choices. Increased demand will go a long way toward managing our nation’s milk supply and improving prices.
For the past two years, we have taken part in Minnesota’s Dairy Day at the state capitol in St. Paul, meeting with legislators and taking part in committee hearings. In 2009, we also hosted a legislative farm tour for our local state senator to help him better understand the policies affecting our farm.
In a nation that continues to get further and further removed from agriculture, it’s more important than ever to give the public and political communities every opportunity possible to hear our voices and put a positive face on their local dairy industry.