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Local dairy farmers to serve on USDA advisory committee
Ray Souza, owner and operator of the Mel-Delin Dairy in Turlock and president of the Western United Dairymen, was appointed to a federal advisory committee on the dairy industry. - photo by Photo Contributed
Two local dairy leaders were appointed by U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to a federal advisory committee to help the struggling dairy industry.
Turlock dairy farmer and president of the Western United Dairymen, Ray Souza, along with Hilmar resident Patricia Stroup, a group manager for Nestle USA, were both named Wednesday to the USDA’s Dairy Industry Advisory Committee.
Over the next two years, the 17-member committee will review the issues of farm milk price volatility, dairy farmer profitability and consolidation, and offer suggestions on ways the USDA can best address the needs of a struggling dairy industry.
Vilsack established the committee in August 2009 in response to the hardships he was hearing from dairy producers across the country.
“USDA has worked tirelessly to assist dairy farmers during these tough times,” said Vilsack. “We’ve increased support prices under the Dairy Product Price Support Program, reactivated the Dairy Export Incentive Program, and bought 200 million pounds of nonfat dry milk for federal feeding programs. This committee, whose members come from all aspects of the dairy industry, will work to find long term solutions to assist this struggling industry.”
Souza is among the nine farmers appointed to the committee and was recommended by U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer.
“Ray Souza is a true leader for California’s dairy producers,” Boxer said in a released statement. “With dairy producers struggling through these tough economic times, we need Ray Souza’s strong voice to ensure California is represented fairly as the USDA seeks to support this critical industry.”
Stroup, who formerly worked at the Hilmar Cheese Company, is among the four processing industry members. The other committee members represent government, retail, academia, and consumers.
Souza is the owner and operator of the Mel-Delin Dairy in Turlock. He’s been a member of the Western United Dairymen since 1984 and is serving his sixth term as president.
“I’m very happy to be on this committee and excited to represent California and work with Secretary Vilsack to help our industry,” Souza said. “This committee has a broad spectrum of representatives and hopefully we can work together to avoid the catastrophe the dairy industry faced in 2009.”
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.