Last Wednesday, Feb. 14, we had the privilege of hosting Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue at our dairy in Hanford as part of his tour of agriculture operations here in the Central Valley. While in the Golden State, Secretary Perdue toured several facilities in the Central Valley from almond orchards to packing sheds. He also attended the World Ag Expo in Tulare, hosting a town hall meeting where he answered questions from California farmers.
While at De Groot Dairies, Secretary Perdue and Arizona dairyman Paul Rovey, a board member for the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, sat down to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the USDA and Innovation Center. The MOU, building upon the first one signed back in 2009, focuses on a renewed pact between both groups to advance sustainable technologies within the dairy industry.
This partnership between the USDA and Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy is a major step forward for funding research and conservation programs that will develop new sustainable farming methods and increase efficiencies in dairy farming. Along with encouraging funding, the MOU highlights other improvements that can be made to benefit both parties, including the streamlining of application processes for NRCS programs, improving upon methane digester technologies and expanding conservation grants for producers, cooperatives, and other groups. You can find more information on this memorandum here.
Following the signing, we hosted a lunch at our dairy for the Secretary and local farmers in the area. This gave us all a chance to speak directly with Secretary Perdue on issues facing California agriculture. We felt it important to speak with the Secretary regarding issues handled at the federal level like immigration, water, and the Food Safety Modernization Act. Secretary Perdue was engaged in our discussions on California agriculture issues and we look forward to seeing what direction the USDA takes to help offer solutions.
We at De Groot Dairies are honored to have had the opportunity to host Secretary Perdue for a tour of a California dairy farm and for the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the USDA and Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. We were given a rare opportunity to represent the California dairy industry, and more importantly dairy families across the Central Valley, by hosting the signing of such an important memorandum. We hope that after speaking with California dairy farmers and touring a dairy farm, Secretary Perdue can return to Washington, D.C. with a better understanding of the importance of our industry to local communities and create a positive impact on California agriculture through his leadership of the USDA.