ELDORADO, Wis. (WBAY) – How do you define milk? Does almond milk or soy milk count? That question is now the focus of federal legislation.
Senator Tammy Baldwin introduced the “Dairy Pride Act” Thursday.
It fights back against non-diary products that are labeled as milk, yogurt, and cheese — and local dairy famers are definitely behind her.
On a farm near Eldorado, Janet Clark has about 130 cows to milk and she’s one of many dairy farmers in the state now fighting for more transparency when it comes to labels placed on food products.
“The FDA has already defined that milk comes from a dairy animal. So we’re just asking — or Tammy Baldwin in this act is asking — that they start to enforce that, that definition that milk comes from a dairy animal,” said Clark of Vision Aire Farms.
Under the “Dairy Pride Act,” drafted by Sen. Baldwin, the FDA would have to crack down on products that use terms like “milk” or “cheese” in a way that’s misleading.
Brad Legreid is the executive director of the Wisconsin Dairy Products Association.
He said, “If you go to the dairy shelf in any store you see various imitations of dairy such as almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, and FDA really has not enforced that particular regulation and has allowed some of these products to be on store shelves.”
In Wisconsin the dairy and agriculture industry generates about $43 billion a year.
Those supporting the reform say it’s also about protecting their product and its image.
“I think labeling is important, true labeling. I’m a mother, I am a wife, and I want to make sure what I’m purchasing in the supermarket is good for my family,” said Clark.
Now that the legislation has been introduced, Senator Baldwin’s office says it will be assigned to a committee.
It is expected to have bipartisan support.
“Dairy farmers in Wisconsin work tirelessly every day to ensure that their milk meets high standards for nutritional value and quality,” said Senator Baldwin in a statement to Action 2 News. “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. That’s why I’ve authored the DAIRY PRIDE Act to take a stand for Wisconsin farmers and the quality products they make.”