Midwest dairy farmers applauded the U.S. Senate’s defeat this week of an attempt to protect non-dairy food products that use a dairy label.
“This is a victory for Edge and other groups that have been fighting for clarity on the labeling of milk and various plant-based products,” said Brody Stapel, president of Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative’s board of directors and a Wisconsin dairy farmer. “This amendment was an attempt to tie the hands of officials at the Food and Drug Administration and keep them from enforcing existing labeling standards. Most of all, this was a victory for dairy farmers and customers.”
The amendment, made as part of a federal spending package, was defeated by an 84-to-14 margin. All but one of the 18 senators who represent Edge members voted down the measure.
“Standards of identity are meant to protect the public and ensure the quality and consistency of certain products,” Stapel said. “While most people who consume plant-based beverages may understand they are not actually drinking milk, there is still confusion surrounding the nutritional value of these products. Milk is associated with a certain nutritional profile and it is both unfair and misleading to label other beverages milk because they lack the protein and vitamins the public associates with cow’s milk.”
This victory for the dairy community comes at a time when the FDA has a renewed interest in properly enforcing the legal definition of milk for labeling purposes. Stapel said Edge will continue to be engaged in ongoing developments.
“The co-op wants to recognize Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) for her exceptional leadership on this issue,” Stapel said. “She spoke out against the amendment on the Senate floor and helped to lead the effort to defeat the measure. She has been a longtime advocate for the FDA taking a more active role on milk labeling concerns.”