Anja Raudabaugh, Western United Dairies CEO

Western United Dairies (WUD) brought on a strategic partner to assist with nutrition advocacy inside the Sacramento legislature this week. It is critical that the dairy industry continues to ensure that better health and wellness are afforded through a variety of dairy products produced in California. California spends nearly $300 million annually on food purchasing and Californias school systems spend approximately $500 $700 million annually on direct food purchasing totaling nearly $1 billion that the state could direct toward supporting California farmers, their employees, and our consumers by purchasing Californiagrown foods.

School meal programs help improve the nutritional status of children, especially children living in marginalized and disadvantaged communities. School meal programs that provide children with access to nutritious foods like milk and dairy, fruits and vegetables, protein, and whole grains are part of the solution to a broad range of issues: hunger reduction, assisting in closing the gender divide, health, and improving the ability to succeed in school and society. In fact, school meal programs are supported as a key solution to scale up within the United Nations Food System Summit as a way to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals targets by 2030 as a result of their positive impact in supporting the growth and development of schoolaged children. The continued inclusion of milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy foods within these public systems and programs is important in ensuring our population can thrive.

Western United Dairies has had tremendous success in advancing initiatives to increase access to fresh and locally grown dairy products within the public policy debate about what is best to improve the lives of our children and adults. WUD plans to continue to leverage existing data and research programs that are afforded to the dairy industryelevating those existing resources through ongoing and increased academic research, polling data, and heightening awareness and the need to increase access to fresh and locally grown nutrition through Californiaproduced dairy products. This will lead efforts to compile data utilizing the variety of resources available and produce education and advocacy materials. These materials will provide substantial evidence that the inclusion of California-grown dairy products are critical to helping prepare school-aged children to learn and provide the nutrition and protein needed to maintain overall wellness.

WUD has been discussing the constant threat of plant-based legislation in the capitol for many years with our board and members. We need the assistance of a nonbiased expert when speaking to Legislators and their staff in the capitol and weve found just the right person. WUD has brought on Amy Mydral Miller, an awardwinning Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist, farmers daughter, highly regarded public speaker, published author, and founder and president of Farmers Daughter® Consulting, Inc., a privatelyheld agriculture, food, and culinary communications firm. Amy is no stranger to public relations work and her expertise in nutrition will be an important complement to our government affairs program. Amy will begin walking the halls of Sacramento this week as part of our engagement strategy with the capitol. You can learn more about Amy here

The alliance of the Plant-Based Foods Association, the animal rights activist/antidairy groups, and the faux vegan Environmental Justice groups must be addressed headon with aggressive advocacy work. The work product aims to place WUD and the dairy industry on permanent offense in this space. Weve played defense far too long, and if California really does lead the nation, our fight to secure dairy products over plant-based products in the school lunch program will play out nationally unless we stop it here for good.

We can look forward to Amys insights on developing a portfolio bolstered by valuable wisdom and expertise from our partners at the dairy checkoffs for our legislative affairs now and in the future. As a reminder our checkoffs are not allowed lobby and WUD can, which is why this component is so critical to building success on both the policy and political sides. For more on this strategic hire, please check out our podcast, Seen and Herd HERE.

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