When the Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture (SASDA) held their annual meeting at the Renaissance Hotel in Nashville last week, one topic of discussion was the “Dairy Pride Act” (S. 130), introduced in Congress earlier this year by Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).
Faced with declining sales, the dairy industry and their lobbyists are attempting to have the Food and Drug Administration define the word “milk” as it is used in advertising and marketing of food products.
Among the regulations contained in the Act are limitations on the use the word “milk” in describing and marketing a product. Under the Act, terms for increasingly popular products such as “almond milk,” “soy milk” or “coconut milk” would be banned. Only “milk” that comes from “the lacteal secretions of a bovine” (in other words, from a cow) could be used in labeling and advertisements.
Opponents of the proposed legislative definitions call this “a protectionist scheme,” point out that the dairy industry has been steadily losing market share to relatively new and increasingly popular plant-based “milk” products and argue this is nothing more than an attempt to stifle competition through bureaucratic and legislative maneuvering. Fortune Magazine noted in February that traditional dairy products have seen a 37 percent decline since 1975 while the plant-based products sold as “milk” have seen dramatic sales increases and expect another 50 percent in growth between 2015 and 2020.
As the state Agriculture officials met behind closed doors in Nashville this week, a representative of groups opposed to the effort to have politicians and bureaucrats re-define “milk” staged a bit of street theater to draw attention to the issue.
A “spokescow” promoting the website www.UdderStupidity.com, “brought to you by The Don’t Have A Cow Coalition — an ad hoc group of dairymen, taxpayers and malcontents who are having a hard time taking the debate over the definition of the word ‘Milk’ as anything but serious,” made a brief appearance at the conference carrying a sign opposing the Dairy Pride Act.
The spokescow was soon removed from the conference by security, but opponents of The Dairy Pride Act may soon have another opportunity to poke fun at the bill in Washington, D.C, where it has been referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education & Labor, which is chaired by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN).