HARRISBURG, PA — Rep. Dan Moul (R-Adams), majority chairman of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, held a voting meeting on Wedneday at which the committee advanced a package of six bills aimed at helping Pennsylvania’s struggling dairy industry.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service, our nation’s schools served more than 4.8 billion school lunches in 2019, but those meals did not include whole milk. Federal dietary guidelines, adopted in 2010 by the Obama administration, specified that in these programs, milk served to school children must be low-fat (1%) or fat-free (skim). Guidelines allow flavorings in fat-free milk only, but whole milk (at least 3% fat) and reduced-fat milk (2%) are strictly prohibited. House Bill 2397 would change that in Pennsylvania.
Sponsored by Rep. John Lawrence (R-Chester/Lancaster), House Bill 2397 would allow school boards or other governing authorities of a school to purchase whole or reduced-fat Pennsylvania milk and make it available to its students.
“While whole and reduced-fat milk was dropped from the school lunch program on the premise that doing so would cut down on childhood obesity and encourage healthier eating, there is little evidence that it has,” said Moul. “Many believe whole milk tastes better than the low- and no-fat varieties and is more nutritious, and therefore, more children would drink it if it was available to them at school. Studies have shown a decline in school milk consumption since the low- and no-fat milk law went into effect.”
Lawrence said a lot of the milk now served to students is discarded. “Students receive zero percent of the nutrients contained in a carton of skim milk that ends up in the trash,” he said. “House Bill 2397 would give school districts across Pennsylvania the opportunity to bring whole milk and chocolate milk back to the lunch menu. I sincerely appreciate the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s support of this critical legislation.”
The committee also approved two other Lawrence bills. House Bill 223 would establish Keystone Opportunity Dairy Zones (KODZ), which would provide tax incentives to locate new dairy processing plants in Pennsylvania and encourage new or additional processing capacity for Pennsylvania milk. House Bill 224 would enable the state Milk Marketing Board (MMB) to ensure the Commonwealth’s struggling dairy farmers receive state-mandated milk premiums.
Other bills voted out of committee this week include: House Bill 2456, sponsored by Rep. Marci Mustello (R-Butler), which would amend the Milk Marketing Law to increase penalties in lieu of license suspension; House Bill 2457, sponsored by Rep. Joe Kerwin (R-Dauphin/Schuylkill), would amend the Milk Marketing Law to increase tester and weigher sampler certification periods from one year to two years; and House Bill 1847, sponsored by Rep. Christina Sappey (D-Chester), would change the name of the Milk Marketing Board to the Pennsylvania Milk Board.
These bills now go to the full House for consideration. To watch this week’s voting meeting, visit http://www.pahousegop.com/Video/Agriculture-and-Rural-Affairs.
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