It seems like Big Dairy just can’t get it together these days. Just last month, a total of 32 members of Congress pushed for a bill that would make it illegal for non-dairy milk to be labeled “milk” on the grounds that it is harmful to the dairy industry. Well, they’re at it again. Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, the state known as America’s Dairyland, just introduced The Dairy Pride Act, which seeks to “protect the integrity of dairy products by enforcing existing labeling requirements.” Should the bill pass, it “would require that non-dairy products made from nuts, seeds, plants, and algae no longer be confusingly labeled with dairy terms like milk, yogurt, and cheese.” Another name for the bill is “Defending Against Imitations and Replacements of Yogurt, milk, and cheese to Promote Regular Intake of Dairy Everyday Act.” (Can we just say LOL.)
According to a tweet by Senator Baldwin, “Mislabeling of plant-based products as ‘milk’ hurts our #GrownInWI dairy farmers.” But, we’re not sure who picks up a carton of almond milk thinking that it comes from a cow… Most non-dairy alternatives are clearly labeled with their ingredient of origin and even go so far as to include photos of almonds on the packaging. In fact, it’s a bit insulting to insinuate that consumers are not deliberately opting for dairy alternatives, but rather accidentally purchasing them because they were confused by the name “milk” on the label (because asking people to read the word soy, hemp, coconut, quinoa, pea, or any other indication that the beverage is derived from plants rather than a cow just seems like TOO much to expect). It sounds more like this outdated industry is desperate to win a losing battle.
According to the proposed act, ““imitation products have gotten away with using dairy’s good name for their own benefit,” but we’re pretty sure that the dairy industry has been doing a pretty good job of ruining its “good name” for quite some time now. According to Nil Zacharias, Co-Founder of One Green Planet, “U.S. milk consumption has been steadily declining by 25 percent per capita since the mid-1970s. Americans, on average, drink 37 percent less milk today than they did in 1970, according to data from the USDA.” The motives for this shift is largely based in growing health concerns associated with consuming the hormones and antibiotics commonly found in dairy products. If the threat of something like drinking copious amounts of estrogen isn’t enough to turn people off milk, then the environmental factors certainly are. The average dairy farm uses around 150 gallons of water per cow, per day solely to operate their flushing systems which keep milking parlor floors clean. In addition to this, dairy farms are known for producing enormous amounts of waste that causes water and air pollution – there have been a few notable incidents where farmers were killed due to exposure to these noxious fumes. Not to mention the fact that around two-thirds of the world’s population is lactose intolerant.
The reality of the situation is people are learning more about dairy and making the informed decision to pick a non-dairy alternative that is fortified with the same vitamins and minerals (perhaps the one plus about cow’s milk). In just five years, the plant-based milk industry grew 250 percent and became a $894.6 million industry while milk industry profits have fallen by seven percent.
It’s about time the dairy industry stopped fighting this and joined in making products consumers actually want. In California, some farmers have converted their dairy farms into almond groves. If they know how to be graceful losers, we see no reason why Senator Baldwin and her backers in the industry can’t follow suit.
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