For Immediate Release: March 30, 2022
Harrisburg, Pa. – Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) is urging members of the state General Assembly to support legislation that would allow schools to serve whole and flavored milk that is exclusively produced in Pennsylvania. Hundreds of farmers traveled to Harrisburg to discuss the whole milk bills and other priority issues with state lawmakers as part of PFB’s State Legislative Conference, Wednesday.
During a news conference at the Capitol, PFB announced its support for House Bill 2397, introduced by Representatives John Lawrence and 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.
“Schools should have the ability to provide healthy options for students,” said PFB President Rick Ebert, “and whole milk contains a number of key nutrients essential for good health and is a more flavorful product. We support this legislation because it will not only provide a much-needed boost for Pennsylvania dairy farmers, but it will also 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. National studies have found that school students are consuming less milk in schools, and are missing out on the essential nutrients in milk. By providing students a more flavorful product the likelihood of them consuming healthy dairy products will increase.
“Students receive zero percent of the nutrients contained in a carton of skim milk that ends up in the trash,” said Representative John Lawrence. “House Bill 2397 will give school districts across Pennsylvania the opportunity to bring whole milk and chocolate milk back to the lunch menu. I sincerely appreciate Farm Bureau’s support of this critical legislation.”
“Too many kids are missing out on the health and nutrition benefits of dairy milk because of yet another overreach by the federal government,” Representative Clint Owlett said. “This bill paves the way for getting whole and flavored milks – milks that our kids will actually enjoy drinking – back in our schools. It’s a win-win for our dairy farmers and our kids who will benefit from the high-quality protein, calcium, vitamin D and other valuable nutrients they can only get from dairy milk.”
Dairy farmers are paid based on how their milk is used and receive the highest value when their milk is used for fluid milk. A decline in fluid milk consumption will hurt a farmer’s bottom line. Helping kids develop healthy habits in school, that includes dairy products, is one strategy to reverse consumption trends, and bring a measure of stability to the dairy industry.
PFB is thankful that state lawmakers are willing to tackle this complicated issue and is encouraging the General Assembly to pass this legislation as soon as possible.
“Pennsylvania dairy farmers really 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 our schools and support our state’s dairy industry,” concluded Ebert.
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is the state’s largest farm organization, representing farms of every size and commodity across Pennsylvania.
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