Archive for the ‘NMPF’ Category

Young Dairy Farmers Lobby on Capitol Hill

June 5, 2014 — About 60 young dairy farmers from across the country met in Washington D.C. last week to lobby on several issues they say won’t go away without being resolved. The group is part of the National Young Cooperator (YC) Program organized by the National Milk Producers Federation.

Even though the Farm Bill is now in our rear view mirror, NMPF says there are plenty of issues Congress should focus on including two trade agreements and immigration reform.

“We also have the issue of GMO labeling and why we don’t want to see mandatory federal laws that require GMO labeling,” NMPF’s Chris Galen said. Instead, NMPF supports a measure that would make the labeling of food containing genetically modified organisms voluntary.

Another important issue is trade policy and getting good deals both with the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans Atlantic Partnership (TTIP).

“Those deals are still pending right now and we want to convince our lawmakers that dairy farmers need to have a good outcome in both the Atlantic and Pacific deals,” Galen said.

The issue of immigration reform won’t be resolved anytime soon as there’s a very narrow window between June and the first Tuesday in November.

“Our expectations are fairly low,” Galen said. “It does not look like immigration reform will get done, unfortunately.”

Even if Congress doesn’t take up the issue until after November, Galen says it’s important to have dairy farmers visit Capitol Hill to remind lawmakers that this issue is not going to go away.

“It’s not going to get resolved unless there is federal legislation,” he said. “The same applies to the GMO issue and with the trade policy issues as well.”

NMPF organized the YC Program in 1950 to educate and build leadership ability in young dairy farmers, designed for dairy producers 40 years of age and younger. A YC fly-in was held last week in conjunction with NMPF’s June Board of Directors meeting.

See more at: http://www.nmpf.org/about-nmpf/young-cooperators#sthash.naT2b5w7.dpuf

NMPF Seeks More Time to Examine Regulation of U.S. Waters

June 2, 2014 – s President and CEO, Jim Mulhern, wrote in a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Assistant Secretary of the Army. “It would be a disservice to farmers to rush this proposal through the review process without sufficient scientific support or time to better understand the complexities of the issue.”

NMPF, which represents dairy farmers producing most of the nation’s milk supply, asked that the public comment period on the draft regulation be extended at least 90 days.    Unveiled in March, the draft regulation expands the waterways covered under the 1972 Clean Water Act to nearly all those connected to U.S. navigable waters. Opponents, many of whom have urged EPA to withdraw the regulation, argue it would have a devastating impact, particularly on agriculture.

NMPF cited two reasons for requesting more time to consider the regulation:  First, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers have not completed the report providing the scientific underpinning for the regulation; and second, many of the key concepts discussed in the draft are unclear or subject to interpretation by government regulators.

“In order for dairy farmers to understand, assess and adequately comment on the proposed changes, the science behind the WOTUS proposal must be clear and conclusive,” NMPF wrote.  But the proposal relies on the scientific conclusions of a draft EPA report still under review by the agency’s Science Advisory Board (SAB).

Where the matter of key concepts is concerned, the proposal uses terms such as “neighboring,’’ ‘‘riparian area,’’ ‘‘floodplain,’’ ‘‘tributary,’’ and ‘‘significant nexus.”

“These terms are as clear as muddy water, and, therefore, will create confusion for dairy producers,” Mulhern said.  Additionally, the proposed rule heavily relies on “best professional judgment” in application of these and other terms, potentially creating a great deal of uncertainty both for regulators and those regulated.

“Dairy farmers are committed to protecting U.S. waters both voluntarily and under the Clean Water Act,” said Mulhern in the letter sent Friday.

“Given the scope and complexities of the proposed rule and its supporting documents, NMPF requests an extension of the comment period, either to 90 days beyond the current deadline, or 90 days beyond EPA’s release of the final connectivity report” providing scientific basis for the regulation, the organization said.

Rising Food Prices Affect Consumers and Producers

May 29, 2014 — Food prices are on the rise due to a combination of factors. National Milk’s Chris Galen joins us this week to elaborate on how this may affect dairy producers.

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CWT Helps U.S. Compete Globally

May 22, 2014 — One of the big stories in the last couple of years is the ability to export. National Milk’s Chris Galen says one of the big factors in increasing exports is the Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) program. He tells us more in NMPF’s weekly DairyLine segment.

 

What’s in a Name?

May 15, 2014 — More than 175 House members signed a letter  to U.S. trade negotiators urging them to warn Europeans that America won’t accept naming restrictions of the cheese nmpfthey make. A similar letter from more than 50 senators was sent in March.

“We’re making certain that they are aware of how important it is to get dairy negotiated favorably for America’s dairy industry as part of this massive U.S. – European Union trade agreement,” NMPF’s Chris Galen reported on DairyLine.

The formal name for it is the Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), but Galen says there are issues that have to be negotiated for it to be a full partnership between the U.S. and EU, at least when it comes to dairy policy. The U.S. faces significant tariffs on dairy product exports to Europe. Europe’s tariffs average about three times the level of U.S. tariffs, which has contributed to a $1.3 billion trade deficit in terms of trade in dairy products between the U.S. and EU.

Europeans also want to restrict the use of common food names including many cheeses, which prompted the letter by Congress. EU’s attempts are designed to carve out exclusive market access for its own producers. If U.S. negotiators agree to the EU’s demands, U.S. manufacturers would have to change targeted product names not only for export but for sale in the U.S.

“They are actually contemplating using this trade agreement as a way to restrict the names of cheeses that are sold in our country,” Galen said. “Even if it’s by cheese companies that are using names they’ve used in the country for many, many years.”

The dairy farmer caucus led by Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT) admits this is a concern that U.S. trade negotiators need to resolve as they discuss this trans-Atlantic trade deal.

“It’s extremely dangerous,” Welch said. “The point of our letter is that there would be a significant uproar in Congress if the final trade (agreement) included a provision that would harm our agriculture sector.”

The letter will be sent to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, who has been negotiating the TTIP with the European Union.

FDA Devotes Attention to Sugar Instead of Dairy Names With No Dairy Content

May 8, 2014 — The National Milk Producers Federation has soured on efforts by the Food and Drug Administration to devote attention to regulating the names of certain types of sugar, while at the same time the agency is ignoring the misuse of dairy-specific names in foods with no milk content.

In a letter sent today as part of an FDA request for comments, NMPF questioned why the FDA is focused on clarifying the common or usual name for “dried cane syrup” or “evaporated cane juice” – a type of dried sugar used as a food ingredient – even as it allows soy, rice, nut and hemp products to define themselves as milk, in violation of long-standing food standards.
“Getting a sugar fix is fine and well, as long as the FDA also turns its attention to a problem that has been ignored for more than a decade,” said Beth Briczinski, NMPF Vice President of Dairy Foods & Nutrition.  “Unfortunately, the agency’s lack of effort on misbranded and mislabeled imitation dairy products has left a bitter taste in our mouths.”

In the letter sent Monday to FDA, NMPF wrote that it is not advising FDA “on an appropriate name for what would be obvious to most consumers is a type of sweetener, but rather to question the Agency’s allocation of resources to such an effort.  It seems rather disingenuous for the Agency to utilize its often-referenced ‘limited resources’ to issue additional labeling guidance, while simultaneously not enforcing existing regulations pertaining to the identity of foods” including imitation dairy products, NMPF wrote in the letter.
“The Agency has blatantly disregarded the names displayed on the labels of imitation dairy products (e.g., “soy milk”, “rice yogurt”, etc.) in the current marketplace.  While the FDA has made its position clear through warning letters to several manufacturers…NMPF would argue that these actions have been too infrequent to be effective, essentially creating a labeling landscape free of enforcement.”
Today’s letter from NMPF is the latest in a series of correspondence between the dairy organization and the FDA, dating back to 2000, in which NMPF has urged the agency to enforce existing requirements for the labeling of imitation foods specifying that many milk, yogurt, cheese and ice cream substitutes produced from vegetable or plant materials are not nutritionally equivalent to real dairy products.
“Manufacturers of these imitation products have misled American consumers for far too long – making a mockery of currently labeling regulations – by usurping the ‘dairy halo’ associated with wholesome and nutritious milk and dairy products,” the letter said.

- See more at: http://www.nmpf.org/latest-news/press-releases/may-2014/nmpf-smacks-sugar-focus-fda-food-labeling-regulatory-efforts#sthash.2xgEM3Ll.dpuf

Vermont Prepares For Mandatory GMO Labeling

May 1, 2014 — Vermont is the first state to require genetically modified food to be labeled as such. What is interesting is that they have made some exceptions to this law, includingnmpf dairy products.

“If a cow has been fed GMO grains, which most of them are in this country, you would not have to label for that,” NMPF’s Chris Galen reported. “You would also not have to label meat or any foods sold at food service type establishments like restaurants.”

Meanwhile, Vermont is gearing up for a legal defense as they expect the mandatory labeling law to be challenged in court. The issue is whether the law violates some provision of the constitution. Those in the dairy industry may recall what happened 20 years ago when Vermont lawmakers tried to label rBST “bovine growth hormone” but was defeated by a court.

The National Milk Producers Federation backs voluntary labeling at the federal level, as opposed to mandatory labels that apply to some foods and settings but not others.

“What we really need to have is a clear definition of what GMO foods are and how you can go about voluntarily labeling them,” Galen said. “We don’t see the need for mandatory labeling like what’s been passed in Vermont or what’s being considered by other states.”

Until some bills are passed in the nation’s capital, we might continue to see bills like Vermont considered or even passed.

Don’t Let Your Taste Buds Fool You

April 17, 2014 — “It’s not real dairy if it’s made from a bean, a seed, a nut, or a weed,” says DairyUS, the animated Real Seal character, in his latest video.

The video is a reminder to consumers that only real dairy products have the same nutrition they have come to know and love and imitation products don’t necessarily have the same nutritional benefits and shouldn’t be able to call themselves milk, cheese or yogurt.

That’s one of the reasons the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) took over the Real Seal program last year, according to Chris Galen. NMPF is using the RealSeal.com website to remind consumers that not all products made from imitation sources have the same nutritional content.
Milk includes vitamins A and D, calcium, potassium and a bevy of other nutrients including protein.

“A lot of these imitators are very skimpy on the protein content in particular,” Galen said.

The Real Seal program continues to grow. This year NMPF is setting up a Pinterest page for people to share cooking recipes and health and wellness information.

“That cries out a presence for the dairy’s Real Seal,” Galen reported. “To remind people that when they do go shopping, eat out or share recipes – dairy ingredients should be real ones and display the Real Seal.”

NMPF remains disappointed that the Food & Drug Administration hasn’t done anything to go after imitators who misuse terms like milk, cheese and yogurt.

“That’s why we need to have a proactive campaign, using something like the Real Seal as a designation that reminds people that only products displaying that seal are made from real dairy products,” he concluded.

For more info go to http://www.RealSeal.com

 

 

NMPF Praises GMO Labeling Bill

April 10, 2014 — The National Milk Producers Federation this week applauded introduction of legislation establishing federal standards for the safety and labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients (GMOs).

Under the bill, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), the Food and Drug Administration will set standards for companies that wish to label their products as containing or not containing GMOs. In addition, FDA is required to conduct a safety review of all new genetically modified traits and could mandate labeling if there is a health, safety or nutrition issue with a particular ingredient.  The legislation is co-sponsored by Reps. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Jim Matheson (D-UT) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY).

“Rather than create a patchwork of state policies, what this legislation would do is deal with this important issue at the national level,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of NMPF.  “And since there is no reason for Congress and the FDA to require mandatory labels on foods produced through GMOs, we need this approach instead:  clarifying how companies can voluntarily label their products in a way that reduces confusion at the consumer level.”

Mulhern added that “genetically modified ingredients have been used in foods in this country for two decades. They add desirable traits so that crops are more plentiful and require less water and fewer pesticides.  If companies want to highlight their presence, they should be able to do so in a way that enhances trust in the food supply.”

The GMO labeling legislation also addresses another problem by ordering the FDA to define the term “natural” when used on food labels. Right now, there is no uniform definition of natural when applied to foods.

Up to 80 percent of the food available in the United States contains genetically modified ingredients. Agencies including the FDA, the U.S. Agriculture Department, the National Academy of Sciences and the World Health Organization have found no negative health effects from consuming GMOs.

The National Milk Producers Federation, based in Arlington, VA, develops and carries out policies that advance the well-being of dairy producers and the cooperatives they own. The members of NMPF’s cooperatives produce the majority of the U.S. milk supply, making NMPF the voice of more than 32,000 dairy producers on Capitol Hill and with government agencies. Visit www.nmpf.org for more information.

‘Brew to Moo’ is Safe For Food Industry

April 3, 2014 — The National Milk Producers Federation has asked the Food and Drug Administration to rewrite a draft livestock feed regulation, saying the agency went beyond the nmpfintent of Congress by seeking to impose requirements that will not make animal feed safer.

In comments sent to the agency Monday, NMPF asked FDA to substantially revise the regulation and requested the agency establish a new round of comments from industry and the public. “FDA has the authority to re-propose the regulation and still comply with (a) court-ordered deadline to publish a final rule by August 30, 2015,” NMPF said. NMPF made the request in two sets of comments, one focused on dairy plant safety and the other addressing animal feed.

The draft regulations were issued under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which gave the FDA broad new authority to regulate food. NMPF said it supports efforts to implement the 2010 law, but believes that the draft animal feed regulation goes too far, particularly because it would make it harder to use brewers’ grain as animal feed, a practice in use for hundreds of years.

Among other things, NMPF, the Washington voice of more than 32,000 dairy producers, said the draft regulation incorrectly imposes safety standards on animal feed that are similar to those for human food. The proposed regulation incorrectly establishes manufacturing standards that equate animal feed and human food. “The innate hygienic standards of humans exceed the hygienic standards of livestock,” the organization said. It asked FDA to propose manufacturing standards specific to animal feed.

The proposed regulation also unnecessarily regulates by-products from brewing when they are used in animal feed, even though there is no public health risk associated with these products.  This “will result in unnecessary increased costs to dairy producers,” NMPF said. It joined the Beer Institute and the American Malting Barley Association in requesting FDA use the existing authority in the FSMA to exempt animal feed products made during the production of alcoholic beverages.

In separate comments submitted jointly with the International Dairy Foods Association, NMPF also identified unnecessary and duplicative requirements for dairy processing plants which may divert some food production materials such as cheese trim and liquid whey to animal feed. These plants are already subject to FSMA requirements for human food production. NMPF stated the proposed standards “do not reflect the inherent differences between foods for human and animal consumption” for diverted food production materials and requested regulatory relief for these dairy processing plants.

With the substantial changes requested, NMPF asked FDA to conform the regulations with the intent of the FSMA and issue a new draft. “Given the very significant nature of these regulations, a second opportunity for stakeholders comment is essential to ensure the final rule is practical, achievable and fosters the safe production and distribution of animal feed,” NMPF said.

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