Western States Dairy Producers Trade Association (WSDPTA) is an association comprised of eight producer trade organizations, representing dairy producers from seven western states.
WSDPTA is an outgrowth of an informal discussion that was held at the 1995 Western Dairy Conference in Boise, Idaho. The discussion centered on the concern that production was moving toward the west, and that western producers should have a stronger voice in national issues. It was felt that if western producers were to have greater influence, this could only be accomplished through greater understanding of one another's needs and problems, and by addressing them with a single, collective message.
Even though their first meeting was informal, it was decided that these original organizations, including Idaho Dairymen's Association, Dairy Producers of New Mexico, Oregon Dairy Farmers Association, and Western United Dairymen, should reach out to other producer organizations in western states to explore the idea of formalizing the group and to expand participation to other interested parties. It was soon discovered that other groups were also having similar discussions within their own respective organizations. After a series of phone calls, the first meeting was scheduled. It was evident at that very first meeting that even through there were issues on which it would be difficult for all groups to arrive at consensus, there were a great deal more on which the group could agree.
It was at that first meeting that it was decided to formalize the association, consisting of the California Dairy Campaign, Dairy Producers of New Mexico, Idaho Dairymen's Association, Milk Producers Council, Oregon Dairy Farmers Association, Texas Association of Dairymen, Utah Dairymen's Association, Washington State Dairy Federation, and Western United Dairymen. Eight of these organizations form the core membership to this day. An election of officers was held, and Richard Walker, a dairy producer from Corning, California was elected President. A bylaws committee was appointed. A number of ideas were agreed upon, including that the association must be a "producer" organization, and only producers would serve on the board and have voting privileges. Also, it was agreed that positions to be taken by WSDPTA should require 100% agreement by the board. It was the intent that WSDPTA should never take a position that would negatively impact producer members of any single member organization.
The discussion soon turned toward issues concerning each organization. One issue began to emerge as a topic that was of great interest to all members present: the northwestern states identified environmental issues as an area of major concern. They discussed the anti-dairy development activity in their area, and significantly raised the awareness of many of the other organizations. Because of this heightened awareness, several other groups began educating their producers on environmental stewardship and motivating them to develop and implement environmental stewardship programs.
At subsequent meetings, thoughts turned toward the 1996 Farm Bill. Key issues were identified even though the Farm Bill had recently passed. A number of issues were yet to be resolved. The Farm Bill mandated that USDA would consolidate the number of Federal Milk Marketing Orders (FMMOs) from 32 to 11. WSDPTA began a very active role in fashioning the FMMO reform. Members were encouraged to become educated on FMMOs. WSDPTA hosted forums, met with USDA representatives and other trade associations, and continued to encourage a "market value" system that ultimately became one of the major changes to the Federal system. This, along with other recommendations, played a significant role in creating a more uniform national pricing system and left little question that WSDPTA played a significant role in FMMO reform.
WSDPTA has continued to be fully engaged in the national dairy debate. By working collaboratively and pooling ideas and resources, WSDPTA provides members with a maximum "bang for the buck. Meetings are held quarterly in different locations throughout the west. WSDPTA continues to work on dairy issues that face western dairy producers.
As time goes on, it has never been more apparent that forming coalitions will give dairy farms their greatest chance for success. Issues such as trade, animal health, and environmental stewardship will require an even greater commitment to cooperation than ever before. Western dairy producers need to have their views heard, and WSDPTA, in cooperation with national groups, will offer that opportunity. – less–ZoomInfo