This year marks a milestone for DBA — our 20th anniversary.
Two decades in the association nonprofit world means you are clearly a mature organization. Our membership is growing, our finances are strong and our members have never been more engaged.
In January, our second annual Dairy Day at the Capital was a success. Dozens of DBA members participated in 40 legislative meetings where we promoted sensible policies to advance dairy and environmental topics. In February, we had evidence of our efforts when a clean water credit clearinghouse bill passed the state Assembly. DBA championed this legislation, which the state Senate passed earlier. This is just one example of how DBA has evolved and is in its prime.
At this stage, we are also clearly aligned in pursuit of our vision, “A trusted and vibrant dairy community that balances business, environmental and social responsibility.” We don’t have to compromise dairy to realize environmental and societal goals. In our most recent meeting with Gov. Tony Evers, our board discussed this goal to create a win-win approach on critical items facing us. The governor has reiterated his desire to advance dairy and environmental outcomes by working together. We have similar conversations frequently with our legislators.
Building trust and credibility begins with our members and their involvement. It’s their actions on their farms and in the communities that prove they “walk the talk.” Our DBA Advocate of the Year, Jim Winn, exemplifies a member you can trust. His leadership on his farm, Cottonwood Dairy in Lafayette County, and in the community is proof enough. Jim’s commitment to leading the farmer-led watershed conservation group LASA provides tangible outcomes in protecting and improving water quality. His ability to connect with his cohorts, neighbors and friends comes natural to him. It’s the Jim Winns of DBA that will truly move us forward.
DBA’s member engagement is spreading throughout the state. In February, I attended the Peninsula Pride Farms annual meeting.
I was most impressed with a panel discussion on conservation practices farmers are implementing. Their excitement about their accomplishments was refreshing. We have farmers discussing breakthrough solutions that have excellent environmental and agronomic benefits.
Four years ago, we had a fair number of naysayers when the DBA board developed the idea of empowering our members through watershed groups and collaborating with organizations outside of our traditional circle. This approach puts trust in our members to drive solutions rather than relying strictly on regulations. This required DBA to step out of our old policy playbook and chart a new course. This was a wise move. I will always put my faith in our members.