ARLINGTON, VA – In light of consumer concern over food-supply disruptions, Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, the largest U.S. organization of dairy farmers, offered the following statement:
“U.S. dairy farmers are stewards of a product that’s harvested around the clock, 365 days a year, and they understand the importance of steady production as well as steady consumption. The U.S. food-supply chain is more than capable of meeting demand, and consumers should be reassured that milk and dairy products will continue to be produced and available in the coming weeks and months.
“Dairy supplies aren’t experiencing production interruptions at this time, and dairy farmers and processors will continue to do what they do best: produce safe, quality products every day for consumers in the U.S. and worldwide. We will vigilantly work with all aspects of the dairy supply chain to ensure these products get to everyone who needs them and that — as has always been true — dairy will remain something consumers can count on.”
ARLINGTON, VA – In response to the continued spread of COVID-19 (the coronavirus) in the United States and the virus’s potential impact on domestic and international markets, National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jim Mulhern said the following:
“As the organization representing U.S. dairy farmers and the cooperatives they own, the National Milk Producers Federation stands ready to assist its members in addressing coronavirus challenges. From possible damages to domestic and world markets, to supply chain labor disruptions on the farm, at the processing plant or in transporting milk, the potential ramifications for dairy are wide-ranging. We will devote our resources to the best of our ability to helping dairy farmers and cooperatives respond to whatever challenges they may face.
“The good news is that the U.S. dairy supply is safe, and production of high-quality products continues unimpeded. The FDA has confirmed that heat treatment kills other coronaviruses, so pasteurization is expected to also inactivate this virus. In addition, there is no evidence that this strain of coronavirus is present in domestic livestock such as cattle.
“Still, all producers will remain vigilant as what has now been labeled a pandemic continues its path. We will continue to answer questions and offer information to help our members. Policy solutions also may be needed for producers whose operations have been affected by the virus. In keeping with our mission of serving our members, regardless of the challenge, we will work with lawmakers and regulators to ensure a safe and adequate supply of milk and to mitigate potential economic harm to dairy farmers.”
Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT), Mike Simpson (R-ID), Anthony Brindisi (D-NY), and John Joyce (R-PA) spearheaded a Feb. 18 letter urging new FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn to quickly finish the job begun by his predecessor, Scott Gottlieb, in 2018 and finally begin to enforce standards of identity defining what may be labeled a dairy product. The letter garnered 58 bipartisan co-signers.
“The deception caused by mislabeling of imitation products is both unfair to our hardworking dairy farmers and problematic for consumers, making it harder for Americans to make educated decisions about what they feed themselves and their families,” wrote the lawmakers in the bipartisan letter.
Citing public health concerns expressed by medical groups including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Heart Association, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the members of Congress said they appreciated that Hahn saw the topic of fake dairy labeling as “a public health and nutrition matter” while calling action on it “long overdue.”
Many of the letter-signers are also co-sponsoring the DAIRY PRIDE Act, introduced by Representatives Welch and Simpson in the House and Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Jim Risch (R-ID) in the Senate, and many also serve on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which retains jurisdiction over this issue.
The DAIRY PRIDE Act would designate foods that make an inaccurate claim about milk contents as “misbranded” and require FDA to issue guidance for nationwide enforcement of mislabeled imitation dairy products within 90 days of its enactment.
During his confirmation process, Hahn voiced his support for “clear, transparent, and understandable labeling for the American people.” Given the agency’s inability to follow up on earlier pledges to act, NMPF supports DAIRY PRIDE’s passage. The strong bipartisan showing on the new letter will add momentum to this effort.