IDFA to Visit South Dakota to Highlight Dairy’s Growing Impact on State Economy, Convene Leaders to Focus on Expanding Trade

WASHINGTON – Top leadership from the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) will travel to Milbank, S.D. on Wednesday, April 24, to highlight the dairy industry’s growing economic impact in the state of South Dakota and join leaders from government and business calling for passage of trade deals and agreements critical to U.S. food and agriculture interests. Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of the IDFA, will join Senator John Thune, South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Kim Vanneman, and professional staff for Senator Mike Rounds, at the newly expanded Valley Queen Cheese Company in Milbank. The group will convene dairy industry leaders from the Northern United States in a tour of the new Valley Queen Cheese facility, and then participate in a roundtable discussion focused on legislative and regulatory issues impacting U.S. food, including pending trade agreements and negotiations, labor and immigration, and geographical indications (GIs), among others.

The IDFA represents the nation’s dairy manufacturing and marketing industry, which supports nearly 3 million jobs that generate more than $161 billion in wages and has an overall economic impact of more than $628 billion. The state of South Dakota has experienced tremendous resurgence in dairy and related industries over the past few years, due to expanding production by IDFA member companies in the Northern United States, like Valley Queen, Agropur, Land O’Lakes, Saputo Cheese, and Bel Brands, among others. Dairy products contribute more than $2.7 billion to South Dakota’s economy, support more than 11,000 jobs, and put more than $555 million in wages into the pockets of South Dakotans each year. Click here for more information.

“We’re grateful to Senator Thune for being a champion for dairy across South Dakota and in Congress,” said Dykes. “Leaders like Senators Thune and Rounds, as well as our IDFA member leaders, understand and appreciate that to continue positive growth, we must work together to support passage of crucial trade agreements like the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). This new agreement includes important improvements that will enable food and agriculture to trade more fairly, and to expand exports of American agricultural products to our North American partners.”

“I’m looking forward to touring the Valley Queen Cheese Factory next week and meeting with dairy leaders to discuss issues the dairy industry is facing in our state and across the nation,” said Senator Thune. “The dairy industry is an important sector of our state’s number one industry, agriculture, so I expect this roundtable will be especially helpful to learn more about what can be done to help these folks in Washington.”

“I’m proud of the growth we’ve seen in the dairy industry here in South Dakota and appreciative of the strong partnership between local producers and processers in making quality dairy products for local markets, as well as those across the world. I’m looking forward to the conversation and being able to showcase South Dakota’s dairy industry,” said Secretary Vanneman.

“Valley Queen appreciates the willingness of these government leaders to engage with our industry at a grassroots level. We can’t expect policymakers to understand our needs if we’re not explaining to them how these policies impact our businesses and our ability to stay competitive,” said Doug Wilke, CEO, Valley Queen.

Details for Media:

Who: Senator John Thune, South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Kim Vanneman, IDFA President & CEO Michael Dykes, D.V.M., Valley Queen Cheese Co. CEO Doug Wilke, staff for U.S. Senator Mike Rounds, and dairy industry leaders.

What: Members of the media are invited to interview and photograph the delegation in the make room of the newly-expanded Valley Queen Cheese Co. plant in Milbank, S.D. There will also be a media briefing by select members of the delegation, including Senator Thune, Secretary Vanneman, IDFA president & CEO Michael Dykes, and Valley Queen Cheese Co. CEO Doug Wilke. The roundtable discussion is not open to media. Media representatives interested in touring the plant may do so between 11:00 and 11:45 a.m.

When (all times Central Time): Wednesday, April 24Members of the media should arrive no later than 9:30 a.m. The Congressional tour begins at 10 a.m. At 12 p.m., following the roundtable discussion, the delegation will brief assembled media. Media will depart at 12:15 p.m.

Where: Valley Queen Heritage Center, 106 S. Main Street, Milbank, SD 57252

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The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation’s dairy manufacturing and marketing industry, which supports nearly 3 million jobs that generate more than $161 billion in wages and has an overall economic impact of more than $628 billion. IDFA members range from multinational organizations to single-plant companies. Together they represent approximately 90 percent of the milk, cultured products, cheese, ice cream and frozen desserts produced and marketed in the United States and sold throughout the world. The diverse membership includes numerous food retailers, suppliers, cooperatives and companies that offer a wide variety of nutritional dairy products and dairy-derived ingredients. Visit IDFA at