One of USDA’s first big decisions of 2007, at least as far as the dairy industry in concerned, is whether to change the Class I and Class II pricing formulas to include increases in the minimums for both classes. USDA held a public hearing in December to consider a petition from dairy producers to implement the change as quickly as possible.
The International Dairy Foods Association was among the groups lining up in opposition. The group’s chief economist, Bob Yonkers, testified at the hearing that farm milk production continues to grow, but utilization of milk in Class I and II continues to decline. The changes, he argued, would harm milk producers in some parts of the country while benefiting others.
If adopted by USDA, the changes would de-link both the Class I and Class II price formulas from the Class III and Class IV price formulas. IDFA said it estimates the move would increase the Class I minimum price by 77 cents per hundredweight and the Class II butterfat price by 1.6 cents per pound of butterfat.
FDA has heard from food industry and consumer groups as it tries to decide whether there should be a regulatory definition of functional foods, and if so, what it should be. Noting that the food industry has begun using the term in its marketing of certain foods that are said to offer some health benefit beyond nutrition, a public hearing in early December solicited input from all parties.
Regulators said they will use that input to decide if there should be new labeling requirements. The Food Products Association, the largest trade association representing the food industry, took the position that no separate category or definition of functional foods is necessary.
But another industry group, Institute of Food Technologists, which advanced the concept of functional foods as a category in a 2005 report, advocated new regulatory guidelines to allow food marketers to describe products as functional foods, as long as product labels reflected current scientific evidence.
Consumer groups testifying at the hearing were highly skeptical of the entire concept. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a long-time food industry nemesis, said while creating a functional foods category might prove useful to consumers in theory, it does not trust the industry nor government regulators to make it beneficial in practice.