U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chair of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, and U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) are standing up for American dairy farmers by reintroducing bipartisan legislation in the Senate to combat the unfair practice of mislabeling non-dairy products using dairy names. Representatives Peter Welch (D-VT) and Mike Simpson (R-ID) are introducing bipartisan companion legislation in the House.
The Defending Against Imitations and Replacements of Yogurt, milk, and cheese to Promote Regular Intake of Dairy Everyday Act (DAIRY PRIDE Act) of 2021 would require non-dairy products made from nuts, seeds, plants, and algae to no longer be mislabeled with dairy terms such as milk, yogurt or cheese.
Current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations define dairy products as being from dairy animals. Although existing federal regulations are clear, the FDA has not enforced these labeling regulations and the mislabeling of plant-based imitation dairy products as ‘milk’, ‘yogurt’ and ‘cheese’ has increased rapidly. This hurts dairy farmers that work tirelessly to ensure their Made in Wisconsin dairy products meet FDA standards and provide the public with nutritious food. It has also led to the proliferation of mislabeled alternative products that contain a range of ingredients and nutrients that are often not equivalent to the nutrition content of dairy products.
The DAIRY PRIDE Act would require the FDA to issue guidance for nationwide enforcement of mislabeled imitation dairy products within 90 days and require the FDA to report to Congress two years after enactment to hold the agency accountable for this update in their enforcement obligations. The bipartisan legislation is also cosponsored by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Angus King (I-ME), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Tina Smith (D-MN).
“Dairy farmers in Wisconsin work tirelessly every day to ensure that their milk meets high standards for nutritional value and quality,” said Senator Baldwin. “Imitation products have gotten away with using dairy’s good name for their own benefit, which is against the law and must be enforced. Mislabeling of plant-based products as ‘milk’ hurts our dairy farmers. That’s why I’m reintroducing the bipartisan DAIRY PRIDE Act to take a stand for Wisconsin farmers and the quality products they make.”
“If it’s not milk, don’t call it milk. Same goes for yogurt, butter and cheese. Only real dairy products from actual dairy animals deliver key nutrients and are held to extremely high FDA standards. Idaho’s dairy farmers are rightfully proud of their high-quality dairy products. It’s only fair that dairy terms be reserved for genuine dairy products,” said Senator Risch.
“Dairy farmers, already struggling to survive, are facing a growing threat due to the misleading practice of marketing plant-based products as milk and dairy products,” said Representative Welch. “These products do not meet the FDA’s definition of a dairy product because they do not have the unique attributes and nutritional values provided by dairy. Our bill would require the FDA to enforce its existing definition of milk and dairy products so that consumers can make more informed choices.”
“I’m proud to be the co-chair of the Congressional Dairy Caucus as it is a key industry to our economy in Idaho. For years I have been sounding the alarm to the Food and Drug Administration for accurate labeling in the dairy industry, only milk comes from a cow – not an almond or coconut or any other fruit or vegetable,” said Congressman Mike Simpson. “The Dairy Pride Act will provide a commonsense solution to ensure consumers are properly informed.”
“FDA must enforce its own standards and regulations to ensure the market transparency and product integrity and safety Americans need to make informed choices about what they feed themselves and their families. The medical community is increasingly voicing concerns over the negative health effects of FDA’s failure to enforce, and consumers are calling for honesty in the marketplace. NMPF thanks Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and James Risch (R-ID) for re-introducing the bipartisan DAIRY PRIDE Act, which would make FDA do its job. Their leadership brought real progress last year, including a bipartisan directive urging FDA to enforce dairy standards of identity. We hope to build on that work this Congress to ultimately solve this critical public health and fairness issue,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation.
“Dairy farmers adhere to the highest standards and take pride in producing healthy, affordable products. They have earned the trust of America’s families. There is a growing interest among consumers in where their food comes from, and the DAIRY PRIDE Act ensures they will be fully informed on what they’re buying as they decide what food to put on their tables,” said Zippy Duvall, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
“Consumers these days are confronted with an overwhelming number of choices at their grocery stores – and confusing or misleading labels can make already difficult purchasing decisions even harder. There’s no reason it needs to be like this. With accurate and informative labels, the DAIRY PRIDE Act will give Americans with the ability to make more informed purchasing decisions. We fully support this effort to facilitate greater transparency in the food system and applaud Senator Baldwin for her leadership on this important issue,” said Rob Larew, President of the National Farmers Union.
“Dairy farmers invest a great deal of time and money to produce a wholesome, nutritious product for consumers, and take pride in the milk they produce. The federal government has promised to ensure that the term “milk” on store shelves can only be used on dairy products. But they have fallen short on that promise. We are grateful to Senator Tammy Baldwin for her efforts to ensure that products labeled as milk are indeed dairy products. Consumers and dairy farmers alike will be the beneficiaries of this effort,” said Steve Etka, Midwest Dairy Coalition.
“Wisconsin Farm Bureau supports Sen. Baldwin’s efforts to support dairy labeling,” said Kevin Krentz, President of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau. “Wisconsin is America’s Dairyland and the mislabeling of dairy products hurts farmers, consumers, rural communities and the entire industry. Wisconsin’s dairy products have international appeal and are a source of a balanced diet. Labeling non-dairy products as dairy leads to confusion amongst consumers about nutritional health benefits. We hope that Congress takes swift action to pass the DAIRY PRIDE Act and bring truth to real dairy labeling.”
“Wisconsin Farmers Union fully supports the introduction and swift passage of the DAIRY PRIDE Act. Our grassroots, member-driven policy opposes any changes in the FDA definition of milk, cheese or other products made with milk and opposes the use of the word “milk” to designate any product not derived from mammals,” Darin Von Ruden, President of the Wisconsin Farmers Union.
“For years we have been engaged on the issue to require FDA to enforce milk standards of identity, which prohibit using dairy terms on non-dairy products. We commend Senator Baldwin for her persistent efforts to hold the FDA accountable through her direct communication with FDA and the reintroduction of the Dairy Pride Act,” said Jeff Lyon, FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative General Manager. “Consumers deserve transparency and want clear and accurate food labels on the food they buy. Further, our dairy farmers deserve recognition for producing such a wholesome, quality product.”
“Milk’s good name is being misused and consumers are misled. Senator Baldwin’s bill simply asks FDA to enforce regulations meant to uphold the standards of identity, and integrity, of milk,” said Dave Peterson, Dairy farmer and Associated Milk Producers Inc. member-owner in Boyd, Wisconsin.
“Research has shown that customers are confused by the way dairy imitations are presented in the marketplace. Mislabeling is not tolerated in most sectors of the economy, but it is pervasive in the dairy aisle. And, the Food and Drug Administration has routinely signaled that it has no intention to correct the problem. We are excited to see Senator Baldwin re-introduce this bill, telling the makers of plant-based imitations that they need to play by the rules, while supporting real dairy products produced by Wisconsin’s farmers and processors,” said Brody Stapel, President of Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative.
“The Idaho Dairymen’s Association strongly supports The Dairy Pride Act. All links in the dairy product supply chain from farm to table are held to the highest standards. That results in the unsurpassed nutrition and quality that consumers all around the world have come to rely on from U.S. dairy products. People buying foods labeled milk, cheese and yogurt deserve to know they are getting the nutrition and quality they are paying for – and The Dairy Pride Act would do just that,” said Rick Naerebout, CEO of the Idaho Dairymen’s Association.
More information on the bipartisan DAIRY PRIDE Act is available here.
An online version of this release is available here.
Source: Sen. Baldwin news release