By Emily Pliscott, NFU Intern

During the month of June, National Dairy Month, we celebrated the hardworking family farmers that produce dairy products across the country. With the ongoing crisis of oversupply and depressed prices, it is even more essential that we support farmers today as they continue to provide nutritious food for their communities. One of the ways this can be achieved is through legislation, one of National Farmers Union’s three key principles.

Last week’s blog, It’s Time to Reform the U.S. Dairy Industry, reminds us how important it is to create long-term solutions and structural reform for dairy farmers. While we work toward this larger goal, NFU policy supports several pieces of legislation which aim to encourage dairy consumption and provide clarity to consumers about what they are buying in the store. 

On January 12, 2019,  U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced the DAIRY PRIDE Act. This bill, officially known as the Defending Against Imitations and Replacements of Yogurt, Milk, and Cheese to Promote Regular Intake of Dairy Everyday Act, works to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by banning the sale of any food product that is labeled as dairy but does not contain milk or milk products from a hoofed animal. In doing so, the bill will increase transparency and distinguish dairy from foods with different nutritional contents and production methods.

U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) has championed several bills supporting milk in schools. Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) and Thompson reintroduced the School Milk Nutrition Act of 2019, which had been previously introduced n 2017. This bill would allow schools to serve low-fat (1%) flavored milk options. This choice is designed to encourage students to drink milk by adding varieties they will prefer. This follows a United States Department of Agriculture commitment in May 2017 that allowed waivers for schools to serve 1% flavored milk.

On January 30, 2019, Thompson and U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) introduced the Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act of 2019. This bill, which is similarly supported by NFU’s policy book, would allow schools to serve whole milk and give students more dairy choices, encouraging them to pick up milk in their lunch lines and giving them essential nutrients they need.

While the passage of these bills would mark progress for a struggling industry, it is also important for consumers to continue to support dairy farmers. NFU encourages farmers and consumers to call their legislators and express support for the pieces of legislation listed above. 

Another way to celebrate dairy farmers is to spread the word on social media. Share stories about your family’s own dairy farm. Speak out in support of legislative efforts that would improve economic conditions for dairy producers. Or even post a cute snapshot of your family enjoying your favorite dairy products.

Lastly, and perhaps easiest of all, support dairy farmers at your local grocery store. Bringing home cheese, milk, ice cream, or other delicious dairy products is a great way to provide nutrition to your family and support the farmers in your community. 

Like what you’ve read? Join the conversation at National Farmers Union’s Facebook page.