Nine thousand miles, 11 states, 6 weeks and 1 very big idea is going to add up to an extra-busy summer for National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jerry Kozak, who is heading up a cross-country tour to boost producer understanding of Foundation for the Future's sweeping new approach to U.S. dairy policy.

July 12 in Olympia, Wash., was stop number one in a dozen-city swing that will see him and other top NMPF officials visit most of the nation's major dairy areas. Meetings are planned to last three hours and will include plenty of time for questions and answers. The final stop will be August 22 in Nashville, Tenn.

The Washington event had most of the feel of a townhall campaign meeting, which it essentially was. Attendance was about 60, many of them producers. The atmosphere was extremely informal, relaxed and often light-hearted. Kozak (pictured here) and Tim Tillison, NMPF senior vice president of marketing and economic research, explained the history and "why?" behind FFTF, laid out its basic features, highlighted many of its specifics, emphasized how and why it offered better opportunity for long-term producer survival than current dairy policy, and then answered questions.

Kozak warmed up the audience for an introductory video that set the tone for the meeting and stressed what would be a key point repeated throughout the meeting. "I want to see a show of hands," he said. Does anyone here think that current dairy policy is serving you well?" None went up. The video then followed, stressing the financial carnage inflicted during 2009 by what he called "The Great Dairy Recession" and how important it is for the dairy industry to never see anything like it again.