Lawmakers Propose Strengthening Milk's Position in Schools

Legislation introduced in the House of Representatives would bolster milk's central place in the federal school lunch program. The Child Nutrition Improvement and Integrity Act (H.R. 3873) would update the nation's child nutrition programs, giving schools the flexibility to offer all varieties of milk, including new flavored and lactose-free varieties, to American schoolchildren on the school lunch line.

Lobbyists for both dairy producers and processors applauded the action. National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jerry Kozak called it "a step in the right direction toward solving our nation's calcium crisis." He said revamping the program could encourage children to become lifelong milk drinkers and develop healthy eating patterns.

International Dairy Foods Association President and CEO Connie Tipton said the legislation would keep milk at the center of school nutritional programs. "With this bill, kids can choose their favorites from a variety of milks, which all provide the same, great nutrient package. The variety offered in the school cafeteria will look a lot more like what is offered in the local store," she added.

The bill cleared the House Education Reform Subcommittee with bipartisan support. Ten Republicans and four Democrats have signed on as co-sponsors.

In baseline projections, two agricultural agencies predict higher milk prices in the coming year. Both USDA and the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute have issued their 10-year projections, which will be used to analyze the potential impacts of any proposed changes in domestic or trade policy on the U.S. agricultural market.

Of the two reports, USDA's sees stronger growth in both milk production and prices. Both also anticipate a continuation of the volatility in milk prices the industry has experienced in recent years.

FAPRI is a joint effort of Iowa State University's Center for Agricultural and Rural Development and the University of Missouri-Columbia.