Down with dairy

Melissa Hart

Down with dairy and up with plant-based yogurts, cheeses and east African cereal grass. That’s what our illustrious USDA Secretary Vilsack has recently proposed for the supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children.The man who we put in charge of our dairy export program while Trump was in the White House is now at the helm of USDA and is making moves to decrease dairy in the WIC program. What? That makes no sense, but that is exactly what is happening.In a recent AP article about the allotment of food dollars in the WIC program, U.S. ag officials proposed an update on how much can be spent on what foods. They are proposing increased vouchers for fruits and vegetables, expand access to whole grains, encompassing foods from different cultures including quinoa, blue cornmeal and teff and as mentioned before, east African cereal grass. The plan also allows more non-dairy options including soy-based yogurts and cheese and requires lactose free milk be included. More canned fish as well as easy to prepare canned beans and dried beans would also be available.Contrary to sound nutritional reality, they want to decrease access to milk and cheese covered under the program.I’m not about to get into anyone’s grocery cart, I’m all about the freedom to eat what you want but when a dairy producer’s tax dollars are supporting policy that increases the consumption of plant-based dairy products instead of the wholesome goodness of a food that is loaded with protein, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B12, Riboflavin and niacin that builds and repairs muscle tissue, excuse me if I give you the side eye.That is the exact same thing as making a dairy producer, after he’s been up since 4 a.m., pulled a calf, fixed a leaky pipe, changed the tire on the skid loader and is on his way in to town to pay the overdue feed bill that he better stop at the local grocery store, fork over money for a young mom to buy soy milk and fake cheese for her three little ones and tell her to stay away from milk.Who does that? The USDA does.While I understand there are single moms who genuinely need temporary assistance, it’s insidious that in doing so, they are forced to sacrifice their autonomy to acquiesce to what the government tells them to eat. I also understand that a mom will do whatever it takes to feed her children but decreasing the available funds for a food that will serve her children for the rest of their lives, allow for proper brain development and simply give them more eating pleasure, is a failure in basic nutrition choices, is a slap in the face to every hard working dairy producer and is the quintessential policy of an administration whose wish list is to control the people through controlling of our food producing capabilities.Our forefathers handed us a representative republic bound by a constitution that values, freedom, liberty and justice for all. It’s ours to keep, if we can.Melissa is a farmwife, mom and freelance writer residing on a dairy farm in southern Michigan. She is available for speaking engagements by contacting her at Visit her weblog at