As the federal government’s fiscal year draws to a close, Congress is still trying to pass legislation to fund federal agencies after Sept. 30, including those that administer programs that are vital to the dairy industry. While a temporary funding bill is likely to be enacted before the end of the month, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) is working hard to ensure the final funding package includes all of our industry’s appropriations priorities.
One of our major goals is to continue funding for pilot programs to encourage families enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to drink more milk. Presently, only one in 10 Americans consumes the three servings of dairy a day recommended by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines.
IDFA worked with Congress to authorize these SNAP pilot programs in the 2018 farm bill, and we believe these pilots will help dairy retailers test incentive models that encourage SNAP families to drink more milk. Achieving this goal will significantly increase health benefits for a population that is often food-insecure, especially the 44% of SNAP recipients who are under the age of 18.
We also hope Congress will push FDA to modernize outdated dairy standards of identity that inhibit innovation. Under the current rules, if manufacturers use a new process or ingredient not specified in the standards, the product could be considered misbranded or adulterated. That’s why it’s so important for dairy standards to keep pace with food science discoveries, new technology and current consumer preferences. For example, FDA’s proposed changes to the yogurt standard of identify have been pending for 11 years with no end in sight.
For the past two years, IDFA has led the fight to make sure FDA has the resources it needs to evaluate proposed changes to dairy standards and to act on those proposals in a more timely way. Given these funding increases, now is the time for FDA to move forward on pending updates such as the yogurt standard that have been languishing for 10 years or more.
We are also asking Congress to continue to fund research to identify new uses for the millions of pounds of ice cream co-product that are discarded every year because no technologies exist to recover the fat, protein, carbohydrates and water in them. At IDFA’s request, Congress has already provided $3 million to USDA to work with industry to identify solutions to this problem that we hope will lead to new uses for these discarded co-products.
Achieving these priorities will benefit our industry and make it easier for consumers to continue to enjoy nutritious dairy products.