Congressman Anthony Brindisi, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, held a virtual meeting with dairy farmers from across New York’s 22nd District and advocated for their priorities in a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue.

During the meeting, Brindisi said he shared updates with the group about the latest coronavirus relief measures, spoke about his bipartisan work to increase domestic agriculture research, and answered questions from farmers about the state of New York dairy. When the coronavirus pandemic hit New York State, Brindisi worked with Democrats and Republicans to expand direct aid to small farms and increase access to Economic Injury Disaster Loans for small businesses and family farmers.

“It was helpful to hear from so many Upstate farmers about their priorities today, and I’ll keep working with both parties to send more targeted relief to our farmers,” said Brindisi. “There’s so much more to be done to support American agriculture: ensuring that we are enforcing the USMCA dairy provisions, passing an infrastructure bill to get goods to market, child nutrition reauthorization, and increased access to essential services like broadband and mental health care to support small towns. Conversations like today’s help drive our legislation, and I will keep working with both parties to ensure our farmers have the resources they need to get through this pandemic and succeed for years to come.”

In his bipartisan letter to Azar and Perdue, Brindisi led more than 50 members of Congress to encourage HHS and USDA to take additional steps to reaffirm the role of dairy foods in building healthy diets. The lawmakers requested that the agencies review studies that have demonstrated beneficial or neutral effects of dairy foods at all fat levels and include those findings in the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

“Mounting scientific evidence highlights the neutral to beneficial health impact of milkfat, showing that dairy fats may be higher-quality and more beneficial than other types of fats,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO, National Milk Producers Federation. “The Dietary Guidelines for Americans provide crucial recommendations regarding what foods Americans of all walks of life should consume. Since the guidelines are only updated once every five years, it’s critical that they reflect the most updated nutrition science.”

Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based International Dairy Foods Association, noted that the guidelines have emphasized the important role dairy foods play in healthful diets, across all age groups, for generations.

“However, despite a plethora of science, recent guidelines have ignored and omitted the favorable health outcomes related to consumption of milkfat, which is different from any other saturated fat,” he said. We are grateful to Reps. Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.) and Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-Pa.) for ensuring the Dietary Guidelines for Americans are science-based and include important research and messages about dairy foods at all fat levels. Dairy is a superfood, and we remain hopeful that USDA and HHS will fully restore dairy foods to their necessary and central position in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.”