Unrest in Dairyland

Written by Nick Olson, ESLLC 2016-2017

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You’ve got me again this week LLC! Today I’m going to be talking about the 1%. And I don’t mean the rich, I’m talking about milk, and particularly milk policy. In January, Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin proposed the DAIRY PRIDE Act. The basic idea behind this act (as Tammy Describes it) is to “protect the integrity of dairy”. The act would do this by regulating the terms companies can use to describe their products, more specifically “milk”.

Because alternative products use the term “milk” but don’t actually contain any dairy in them, Tammy argues that it’s misleading the consumer about nutritional information within the product. In fact, when we take a close look at DAIRY PRIDE (capitalized as so), we see that it’s an acronym that stands for Defending Against Imitations and Replacements of Yogurt, milk, and cheese to Promote Regular Intake of Dairy Everyday… Act. When given this information, we can make some informed inferences on where she’s coming from. And where she’s coming from is the 2nd largest dairy producing state, Wisconsin, with a lot of farmers to keep happy.

Looking at the numbers, we see that since the 70’s milk consumption has dropped 37%, while alternative milk consumption has increased 250% just in the last 5 years. It’s understandable that Baldwin may feel attacked or responsible to protect the fearful farmers of her state by proposing this slightly underhanded act.

“Dairy farmers in Wisconsin work tirelessly every day to ensure that their milk meets high standards for nutritional value and quality, imitation products have gotten away with using dairy’s good name for their own benefit, which is against the law and must be enforced.”

This defensive quote from the Wisconsin Senator pleads for the law to put these alternatives in their place. The problem with this is attachment to this idea that consumers don’t know what they’re getting. You tell me, did you (or anyone you know) really think that coconut, almond, or soy milk contained actual dairy?

Another problem with the proposal of this statement is the refusal to accept that people choose alternatives for more than just nutritional or taste factors. When the argument of milk sustainability is brought up, we can clearly see that almost any alternative is a greener option.

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Alternative companies often have lower-impact packaging, conserve more water, and a green-educated staff. For example, So Delicious Dairy free offers employees free light bulbs and energy saving devices. They are also given perks (such as gift cards to sustainable local businesses) for commuting to work in greener ways. These companies are making an attempt to become relevant, but in a different way than BIG MILK.

So now to wrap up, and I’m going to make my own proposal (whilst being just as biased as Tammy). Instead of redirecting blame to alternative companies for giving seemingly logical names to products, dairy companies could instead benefit the conscious consumer (and the earth) by putting greener products on the shelves. Just some “food” for thought.

~N

But I’m going to be honest… I would be very excited to go to target to buy a ½ gallon of Silk® Almond “Juice”.

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