U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Reps. Sean Duffy, R-Wausau, and Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, have joined a new effort to to require non-dairy products to stop using terms like “milk,” ‘’yogurt” and “cheese” on their labels.
Baldwin and Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, reintroduced bipartisan legislation Thursday to address what they call the mislabeling of non-dairy products.
The Defending Against Imitations and Replacements of Yogurt, milk, and cheese to Promote Regular Intake of Dairy Everyday Act (DAIRY PRIDE Act) would require non-dairy products made from nuts, seeds, plants and algae to no longer be labeled with dairy terms such as milk, yogurt or cheese.
The legislation is co-sponsored by Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Angus King, I-Maine, and it also was introduced in the House Thursday by Reps. Peter Welch, D-Vt., and Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, with Duffy and Kind among the co-sponsors.
The proposals take aim at products such as almond and soy milk, which have gained greater acceptance in the market in recent years.
Dairy industry advocates argue that current Food and Drug Administration regulations define dairy products as being from dairy animals and yet the FDA has not enforced the labeling regulations.
The Dairy Pride Act would require the FDA to issue guidance for nationwide enforcement of mislabeled imitation dairy products within 90 days and to report to Congress about the status of enforcement two years after enactment.
“Dairy farmers in Wisconsin work tirelessly every day to ensure that their milk meets high standards for nutritional value and quality,” Baldwin said in a news release. “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.”
Duffy released the following statement Thursday in support of the legislation: “You can’t milk an almond, and the FDA must clarify and enforce the definition of milk that’s already on the books, that milk comes from cows. Wisconsin dairy farmers and consumers across the country deserve this important clarification. I’m proud that both my Republican and Democrat colleagues have continued to pressure the FDA to fix this.”
Fresh off winning both first and second runner-up positions in the 2019 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest this month, Marieke Gouda owner Marieke Penterman of Thorp chimed in with her backing of the bill.
“We stand with dairy farmers by saying ‘no’ to the mislabeling of non-dairy products,” Penterman said in the Baldwin news release. “Corporations are taking advantage of a movement pushing for an ‘ethical’ way to consume products, ironically, by making false and unsubstantiated claims about their products.”
Colfax farmer Jim Holte, president of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, Westby farmer Darin Von Ruden, president of the Wisconsin Farmers Union, and several other state and national agricultural organizations immediately expressed support for the legislation.