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Dairy benefits from omnibus spending bill

Photo by Anna Hastert

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) says the omnibus spending bill addresses several issues important to dairy farmers.

Chris Galen serves as senior vice president of communications for the National Milk Producers Federation. Galen talks about a new provision, directing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take action against mislabeled imitation dairy products. The provision aims to reduce consumer confusion and direct competition.

“We’ve felt for a long time – the FDA needs to get off it’s rear end, enforce standards of identity that say, ‘Unless your milk or yogurt comes from a dairy animal, then it can’t use those terms,’” Galen said. “The language included in the omnibus is going to help direct FDA’s focus on this issue, so they can no longer turn a blind eye to the proliferation of all these dairy imitators.”

The bill’s language gives the FDA six months to develop and implement labeling standards. Galen adds the dairy industry is not the only market impacted by imitation products.

“The beef cattle industry has awakened to the fact that we’re seeing more plant-based meat substitutes or imitators,” Galen said. “All of these things are indications that the regulatory system has been very slow to react to the rise of these plant-based, lab created imitation products, whether it’s dairy foods or imitation meats.”

The omnibus spending bill also includes a provision which address the amendment made to Section 199 in the tax reform bill. Galen says the provision returns favorable treatment to cooperatives and farmers.

“This was an effort to basically recreate the Section 199 Domestic Production Activities Deduction. That got eliminated late last year when the overall tax bill got past. Then low and behold, some people thought, ‘Maybe they went too far in eliminating it,’ so they tried to roll it back and that’s ultimately what happened in the omnibus bill. National Milk worked with other Ag organizations to emphasize the need to maintain a favorable treatment of dairy cooperatives and their farmers.”