It is NOT milk

Melissa Hart

When the milk inspector drives in the farmyard there is a collective groan because everyone knows what’s coming. There will be intentional directives on what to improve on the farm but there is just something about the nitpicking process of some inspectors that rub us the wrong way. Do we continue to open the law of state and national inspections? Yes, because we want to stay in the business of providing a healthy product to a hungry nation.The producer’s goal is to yield the highest quality milk possible. It’s not only a matter of pride, but a matter of livelihood. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards require a high-quality product in the carton before milk can be put on the outside of the carton. Dairy farmers have been doing this for years and yet when other food producers want to label their products as milk suddenly it’s the wild, wild west of labeling requirements.This is a simple issue. If it can’t lactate, then it cannot produce milk. It’s black and white but in the confusing world of grey, we have slapped the high integrity name of milk on every plant-based beverage out there only to confuse consumers and frustrate an entire industry of men and women who work ridiculously long hours for short pay.To pacify the dairy industry, the FDA has made a slight move in the right direction that would allow plant-based beverage manufacturers to keep using milk on their labeling but only if they included a disclosure specifying nutritional differences.This is simply not enough. To imply that a plant-based alternative has the equal nutritional value of milk is disingenuous and a lie and the FDA needs to stop this charade. Milk has a standard of identity with the FDA, and they aren’t even enforcing it.It’s time for you to get involved and flood the FDA with your comments concerning this heinous mislabeling issue. The National Milk Producers Federation has directions on how to submit a comment to the FDA but the comment period closes on April 24th. Find this at, Tammy Baldwin D-WI, along with Sens. Jim Risch, R-ID, Peter Welch, D-VT and Susan Collins, R-ME, introduced the DAIRY PRIDE Act, which would require FDA to enforce its standards of identity and supersede the inadequate draft guidance in which plant-based beverages could call themselves milk as long as they clearly state their nutritional differences with real dairy. Contact your congressmen and ask them to keep pushing for this. When people call or write, they listen but when they don’t hear from you, they assume you don’t care.It is way past time to get this ship going in the right direction. Let’s at least get this done, then we can move down the long list of other concerns that plague this country. As mom always said, “Slow and steady wins the race.”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