For Immediate Release: April 13, 2022
Contact: Bill Zeiders, Media Communications Director
Harrisburg, Pa. – Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) applauds the state House of Representatives for passing HB 2397, introduced by Representative John Lawrence and Representative Clint Owlett, which would allow schools to have the option to serve whole and flavored milk, provided that they purchase milk that is produced and bottled in Pennsylvania.
School districts throughout the country have been prohibited from serving whole milk due to nutrient guidelines set by the federal government.
“We are very pleased to see a strong bipartisan effort to approve this important legislation,” said PFB President Rick Ebert. “Whole milk contains a number of key nutrients essential for good health. We support this legislation because it will not only provide a much-needed boost for Pennsylvania dairy farmers, but it will help foster a new generation of healthy kids who drink milk.”
Guidelines established during the Obama administration restrict the fat content of school meals and beverages, and schools have been limited to serving 1 percent and skim milk to students, which is a less flavorful product. As a result, fewer and fewer students over a ten-year period are drinking fluid milk while missing out on the vital nutrients it provides.
Dairy farmers, meanwhile, are finding it difficult to stay profitable. National fluid milk consumption only makes up 33 percent of all dairy consumption, and farmers receive more money from the sale of fluid milk that is bottled fresh; whether it’s a gallon in the grocery store or a carton in a school lunch. Without a reversal of consumption trends or an overhaul to the dairy payment structure, dairy farmers will continue to experience dwindling profitability.
House Bill 2397 now heads to the Senate for consideration. Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is calling on the General Assembly to quickly adopt legislation that will allow Pennsylvania schools to serve whole milk.
“Pennsylvania dairy farmers need our help, and this legislation will not only help our farmers, but encourage our kids to make healthy choices. We need to do everything we can to get whole milk products back into schools and support or state’s dairy industry,” said Ebert.
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is the state’s largest farm organization, representing farms of every size and commodity across Pennsylvania.