Dairy farmers are losing the battle over ‘milk’

The word “milk” may be a misnomer. By Melody Hahm.
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Just a few years ago, your grocery store’s dairy aisle had a handful of milk choices — skim, 2%, whole, and maybe soy and almond, if you were lucky.
Now, the list has grown to include plant and nut-based “milks” like almond, soy, rice, hemp, flax, hazelnut, coconut, oat, sunflower, cashew, macadamia nut, and pecan, just to name a few.
But the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines “milk” as coming from actual animals. Milk is the “lacteal secretion…obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows.” The word “milk” also includes goat, sheep and water buffalo milk.
In response to all of these non-milk milks, Democratic Congressman Peter Welch of Vermont and Republican Congressman Mike Simpson of Idaho wrote a letter to the FDA, urging it to actually implement its own definition of “milk.” They were joined by 23 other members of Congress.
“Our call on the FDA is to enforce its own regulation. These seed, plant and nut-based beverages are fine drinks, but they’re not milk. They’re right in the dairy aisle so a lot of people incorrectly assume that the nutrients associated with dairy milk are the same,” Welch told Yahoo Finance.
This fight appears more of a marketing battle than a health argument, as many non-dairy alternatives claim to be just as nutritious as milk. Moreover, many Americans can’t drink milk in the first place and are actively eschewing dairy. Plus, it would be difficult to market delicious “soy water” to have with your coffee or cereal.
The plight of dairy farmers in America
This “milk” labeling issue is part of Welch’s larger effort to bring attention to the plight of dairy farmers in Vermont. With the milk of 131,000 cows producing $504.9 million last year, dairy farming is the largest chunk of the state’s agricultural economy.
But over the last few years, the situation has been dire for the dairy farmers across America, as people simply aren’t drinking milk as much anymore. Total fluid milk sales have hit a 40-year low. There has been a 9% decline in milk sold over the last five years alone.
According to data from the Nielsen Company, almond milk is America’s top substitute for dairy milk. Over the last five years, almond milk sales have grown 250% while the total milk market has shrunk by more than $1 billion during that same period.
Whether plummeting milk consumption is correlated with or caused by booming sales of non-dairy products, it’s leaving dairy farmers in the lurch.
The situation has been so grim that in 2014, the USDA introduced a voluntary insurance plan, called the Dairy Margin Protection Program, that provides dairy producers “catastrophic coverage” for an annual $100 administrative fee. It will be effective through the end of 2018. In conjunction with this program, the government also requires the USDA to purchase dairy products for donation to food banks and feeding programs.
“Farmers are hanging on by their fingernails. For rural America, survival is an issue. And rural America feeds the entire country. This isn’t just about dairy farmers,” says Welch.
Chris Galen, the SVP of communications at the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), a non-profit that serves as “the voice of dairy producers on Capitol Hill and with government agencies,” says farmers find it unfair and irksome that they are expected to play by the rules and regulations while upstarts play fast and loose with labeling terminology.
“There is a federal regulation that defines what foods must be made of. We’ve seen an explosion of plant-based imitations. We’re not looking for new regulations — we just want the FDA to enforce the existing regulations,” Galen told Yahoo Finance.
Source: Yahoo
Link: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/dairy-farmers-are-losing-battle-over-the-word-milk-fda-184248591.html?.tsrc=fauxdal

Mirá También

Así lo expresó Domingo Possetto, secretario de la seccional Rafaela, quien además, afirmó que a los productores «habitualmente los ignoran los gobiernos». Además, reconoció la labor de los empresarios de las firmas locales y aseguró que están «esperanzados» con la negociación entre SanCor y Adecoagro.

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