September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

A new face for ISDA

Bloomberg begins role as industry relations manager

By Krista M. Sheehan- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

ANKENY, Iowa - After being on the move throughout the United States last year with her husband while he finished optometry school, Jessica Bloomberg is happy to return to her home state and be working in a job that relates back to her childhood.

"I'm excited to promote the (dairy) industry and be back in Iowa," Bloomberg said.

Since May 11, Bloomberg has been working as the new Industry Relations Manager for the Iowa State Dairy Association. She took over for Erin Vagts, who held the position for four years and recently moved to Texas with her husband who relocated for a dairy veterinarian position.

"When this (job) opportunity came up not only in agriculture, but in dairy - an industry I love and is so close to home for me - there was no question about it. I wanted this job," Bloomberg said.

In 1876, the ISDA formed as a group for farmers to work through issues and problems that faced the dairy industry at the time. Although the issues changed over the years, the Iowa State Dairy Association remained an organization for farmers to discuss dairy concerns and come together as an industry. After the 1980s and 1990s when the association started to dwindle, it was restructured in the early 2000s to bring the voice of the dairy farmers back, Bloomberg said.

"[The ISDA] provides a forum so dairy farm members can influence policies and have a direct impact on producers in Iowa," Bloomberg said. "We represent processors as well as producers."

One of Bloomberg's responsibilities as Industry Relations Manager will be lobbying for dairy issues.

"I've never done any lobbying before, but I think it will be exciting," she said. "The best way to learn something is just to jump in and do it and that's what I'm doing."

From past experiences, Bloomberg knows the word 'lobbying' can have negative connotations.

"I like to think of it as telling Iowa's government what [dairy farming] is and informing them about what the dairy industry needs to survive," she said.

In addition to lobbying, Bloomberg will work on membership, coordinate all communication for ISDA, attend board meetings, work on office tasks and work with other agricultural organizations in the state to lobby for the best dairy policies.

For the short term, Bloomberg plans to get to know her position well.

"I have such diverse duties in this job that my short term goal is to get a grasp on all things I do and be able to do them well," she said.

She also wants the ISDA to be a driving force in helping the dairy industry thrive in the future.

"Things aren't good right now for dairy producers," she said. "Because I came from a dairy farm, I have a vested interest in making things better so my goal is to do everything I possibly can to promote the dairy industry and to make things better."

Bloomberg's agricultural and dairy ties come from growing up on her family's farm in Brooklyn, Iowa, where her dad, uncle and grandpa managed a herd of cows and cropland of corn, soybeans and alfalfa. Today, the farm, which now milks 550 cows three times a day, is still in the family and has added the next generation: two of Bloomberg's brothers. Bloomberg's father is also an advocate for agriculture as the president of Iowa Farm Bureau.

During her childhood, Bloomberg participated in the 4-H dairy project and helped her family continue the tradition of exhibiting cattle at the Iowa State Fair. This year will be the family's 90th year showing.

"We're not always at the top of our class, but we have a good time," she said.

Bloomberg attended the University of Northern Iowa where she received her bachelor's and master's degrees in communication. Shortly after her time at the University, she worked as the communications specialist for the Iowa Soybean Association.

"I really enjoyed working in agriculture," she said about the position.

In October 2007, Bloomberg married her husband, Justin, and moved to Chicago. She then spent the last year traveling to Colorado, Tennessee and California with Justin so he could complete internships for optometry school before they returned to Iowa.

"As someone who understands the industry, I'm excited to help promote it and it's an industry that means a lot to me," Bloomberg said. "I'm anxious to get back into it and I think working with the Iowa State Dairy Association will be a really great experience."

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