Sugar Lobby Icon “D-Y” Retires from DC, Returns to Florida

Gary Cooper Florida, General, Sugar

Fruit Fly This news post taken from an American Sugar Alliance communique this week noting that Dalton Yancey is moving back to Florida to retire after years of service to the sugar industry in Washington D. C. Some of us have known Dalton simply as “D-Y” since way back when he represented the Florida Sugar Cane League. AgNet hats are off to Dalton Yancey and his wife Barbie as they return to the Sunshine State to enjoy their retirement years! Now, here’s the story published this week by the American Sugar Alliance:
The conclusion of the 2008 Farm Bill brought mixed emotions for the sugar industry. There were smiles of relief because the long political grind was finally over. But smiles gave way to tears when folks realized that Dalton Yancey, a 30-year sugar lobbyist, had completed his last legislative task and would now retire to Florida with his wife, Barbie.

Those who worked with Dalton remember the smile, the laugh, and the litany of anecdotes that could brighten even the darkest of situations.

Ryan Weston, Dalton’s successor with the Florida, Texas, and Hawaii Sugarcane Growers, recounts one of his favorite Dalton stories:

“One time Dalton was at a funeral for a friend of a close friend when the officiating pastor was caught in a traffic jam. Everyone looked around the room and Dalton, known as a gifted speaker and a lay leader, was quickly chosen to perform the funeral ceremony. Dalton did a wonderful job and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the fine stand-in performance, especially Dalton’s rendition of the 23rd Psalms. Knowing that he should console the family at the end of the ceremony, Dalton went down to speak with the departed’s brother. The brother said, ‘Dalton, that was a beautiful Christian ceremony and thank you, but I thought I should tell you that our family is Buddhist.’”

And Dalton didn’t just rely on humorous tales to pick his colleagues up when they were feeling down about the Farm Bill’s glacial pace. He would interject his experience into the conversation, reminding others that he’d worked six Farm Bills over the years, and that no legislation worth having is ever easy.

“His knowledge will be sorely missed in our industry meetings, in the corridors of Congress, and in federal agencies,” explains Jim Johnson, the president of the U.S. Beet Sugar Association, “but his legacy of accomplishments on the commodity and trade policy fronts will endure many years after his retirement.”

Vickie Myers, the executive director for the American Sugar Alliance, said it was Dalton’s unique ability to use his senses—his common sense and his business sense—that helped him earn the respect of his colleagues and the greater agricultural community.

At his retirement dinner held in the waning days of the Farm Bill, Dalton’s peers shed some light on the life experiences that made Dalton such a leader within the sugar family.

Carolyn Cheney with the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida spoke of Dalton’s spirituality—he was active in Faith in Politics and his church.

Luther Markwart of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association thanked Dalton for his service to the country—he won a Bronze Star for Meritorious Service in Vietnam.

And Jack Pettus, who represents the Louisiana cane industry, expressed admiration for Dalton’s ability to keep things in perspective in a sometimes jaded town—there is nothing more important in this world to Dalton than his wife and two children.

Presenting Dalton a going away present from the industry was an emotional Jack Roney, who is the policy director for the American Sugar Alliance. “You have personally helped heal wounds, Dalton, with your kindness as a constant friend and with your great sense of humor,” he said.

Dalton, the sugar industry wishes you and Barbie a happy retirement. You may be 1,000 miles from our nation’s capital, but you will always be close to our hearts.

Goodbye and good luck, good friend.