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Names in the News: Dean Norton

PD Staff Published on 28 June 2013

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With immigration reform on the nation’s mind, the New York Times recently highlighted the issue in an article titled “Fate of Immigration Bill May Hinge on Farm Districts.”

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New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton, whose family operates a fifth-generation dairy, commented in the article on the power of farmers to influence decisions.

How were you selected to interview with the New York Times?
I have been interviewed by several of their reporters in the past, so they were acquainted with New York Farm Bureau and me. They contacted our director of public affairs to set up the interview.

What preparations did you make for the interview?
I reviewed some notes on immigration reform that I had, especially those pertaining to S 744.

Have you done other interviews before? Please explain.
Yes. As the president of the New York Farm Bureau, I am approached frequently for interviews with the media.

How did it compare to represent the ag industries on immigration versus other less-charged topics you’ve been interviewed about?
Nothing out of the ordinary. It was nice to have an outlet like the New York Times willing to write a story about agriculture and immigration reform and the importance of reform to agriculture.

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Were you satisfied with the piece that they produced?
Overall, I thought the piece was fair and highlighted the needs of immigration reform and the effects that it has on agriculture. I’m glad that they actually interviewed other farmers for the piece and allowed them to tell their story.

What advice would you have for other dairy producers who may be doing interviews?
Prepare by studying up on the topic being discussed. Be relaxed with the interviewer, and treat the experience like a conversation you would have at the end of the day at the dinner table.

Don’t be afraid to not answer a question that is asked, and only share those thoughts that you would not mind seeing in print.

How can producers influence decisions regarding immigration?
They need to tell their story of how their farms are affected by the lack of immigration reform. Contact your elected officials and lobby them regarding your thoughts.

lected officials want to hear from their constituents, and they will put more weight behind what they hear from you rather than from a lobbyist.

Also, do not be afraid to write letters to editors to convey your positions to a broader audience. The big thing is to be involved. If you are not involved, then you do not have a right to complain about the results. PD

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