The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association is applauding recent Senate action to strengthen the United States dairy industry, crediting member engagement and diligent efforts by Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) for the wins.
On Wednesday, August 1, as part of the Senate’s deliberations over a spending package, Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced an amendment which would have restricted U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enforcement of standards of identity for dairy products. Recently, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced plans to issue new guidance on the use of the term "milk" as related to the labeling of non-dairy products, including those manufactured with soy, rice, coconut, and almonds.
With reports of a close vote on this proposal, WCMA and many of its members sprang into action, contacting key swing senators. Ultimately, the Lee amendment was rejected on broad bipartisan lines, with just 14 “yea” votes.
“Without question, our members’ emails and phone calls to their elected officials moved the needle,” said John Umhoefer, WCMA Executive Director. “It is important for all of us to remember that dairy’s voice remains strong and, when focused, can prompt positive and impactful legislative action.”
Also Wednesday, the Senate voted 83-15 in support of a plan introduced by Sen. Baldwin to secure $7 million for dairy business innovation projects run by state departments of agriculture, cooperative extensions, non-profit organizations, and institutions of higher education, including the Center for Dairy Research. Funding could support dairy product research and development, marketing and export endeavors, and plant modernization.
“U.S. dairy processors and producers are facing the challenges of operating with limited export opportunity, increasing product supplies, and – consequently – low milk prices,” said Umhoefer. “In need of a boost, we appreciate Sen. Baldwin’s work to direct federal dollars toward programs designed to increase the sale of U.S. dairy products both domestically and abroad.”