- Proposed WIC revisions disappointing for dairy
- September fluid sales lower
- MDVA’s Reames named to EPA advisory committee
- NMPF: Infant formula import waiver should expire
U.S. dairy organizations expressed disappointment in proposed changes to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) announced by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). The changes were posted on the FNS website, Nov. 20.
A major piece of the proposal boosts support for fruit and vegetable consumption by increasing the amount provided and the varieties available for purchase. Other proposed changes expand whole grain options to include foods like quinoa, blue cornmeal and teff, and includes options for canned fish and beans.
Among specifics targeting dairy, the proposal reduces maximum monthly allowances for milk and permits only unflavored milk, while also requiring lactose-free milk to be offered. It calls for more non-dairy substitution options, such as soy-based yogurts and cheeses. The proposal also adds flexibility in the amount of formula provided to partially breastfed infants.
Representing dairy farmers, cooperatives and processors, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) issued a joint statement in expressing disappointment in the proposal, while pledging to work with the USDA to modernize the WIC food package for eligible families to access nutrient-dense milk, yogurt and cheese varieties.
“It is unfortunate for WIC participants that the proposed rule would decrease access to dairy products and the unique nutrient profile they provide, especially considering the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans note that a staggering nearly 90 percent of the U.S. population does not consume enough dairy to meet dietary recommendations,” according to the statement. “At a time of rising food costs and high food insecurity, we should focus on increasing access to a wide variety of healthful, nutrient-dense and affordable foods, including both fresh produce and dairy products. It’s disappointing that the proposed rule would limit WIC family purchasing power for nutritious dairy foods, particularly at a time like this.”
Taken collectively, the changes will increase the current level of assistance, while providing WIC state agencies with more flexibility to tailor the packages to accommodate personal and cultural food preferences and special dietary needs and increase variety and choice for WIC participants, making the program more appealing for current and potential participants.
The USDA announcement said the “science-based revisions” incorporate recommendations from the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) and the 2020-25 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The USDA FNS is accepting feedback on the proposed changes until Feb. 21, 2023. To read the proposal and find information to submit comments, click here.
Here’s an update on U.S. fluid milk sales data from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service for September 2022.
- Total sales: Sales of packaged fluid milk products totaled about 3.58 billion pounds, down 2.4% from the same month a year earlier. At 32.13 billion pounds, year-to-date (January-September 2022) sales of all fluid products were down 2.2%.
- Conventional products: Monthly sales totaled 3.34 billion pounds, down 2.7% from the same month a year earlier. Year-to-date sales totaled 29.98 billion pounds, down 2.3% from January-September 2021.
- Organic products: Monthly sales totaled 238 million pounds, up 1.1% from a year earlier. At 2.15 billion pounds, year-to-date sales of all fluid organic products were down 1.2%. Organic represented about 6.6% total fluid product sales in September and 6.7% year-to-date.
The U.S. figures are based on consumption of fluid milk products in Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) areas, which account for approximately 92% of total U.S. fluid milk sales, and adding the other 8% from outside FMMO-regulated areas. Sales outlets include food stores, convenience stores, warehouse stores/wholesale clubs, nonfood stores, schools, the food service industry and home delivery.
Lindsay Reames, executive vice president of sustainability and external relations at Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association (MDVA), has been appointed to the EPA's Farm, Ranch and Rural Communities Federal Advisory Committee. The committee advises the EPA administrator on a range of environmental issues that are of importance to agriculture and rural communities. Most recently, the committee has been charged with how the EPA’s policies and programs can advance agriculture’s climate mitigation and adaptation goals.
The head of NMPF called on congressional committees to allow temporary steps to boost infant formula imports to expire at the end of the year. In a letter to leaders of the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee, Jim Mulhern NMPF president and CEO, said continuation of import tariff waivers could discourage future domestic production of infant formula.
The U.S. faced a critical shortage of infant formula earlier this year due to supply chain issues and the temporary shutdown of a major Michigan processing plant by the FDA over bacterial contamination concerns. To address supply shortages, Congress approved the Infant Formula Act in July and the Bulk Infant Formula to Retail Shelves Act in October. Signed into law by President Joe Biden, both provided duty-free treatment on infant formula imports through Dec. 31, 2022.
Mulhern said NMPF would work with the Biden administration and Congress in the coming year to identify ways to improve the ability of U.S. manufacturers to produce more infant formula.