NMPF Leads Dairy in FMMO Discussion



NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern called for dairy farmers from all regions to work together for improvements to the Federal Milk Marketing Order system in his remarks at NMPF’s annual meeting in Las Vegas as shown on RFD-TV. Positive changes for dairy producers is possible through NMPF leadership because of the nature of the organization as an industry leader, said NMPF Senior Vice President of Communications, Alan Bjerga.

NMPF’s Mulhern Speaks at Annual Meeting


NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern speaks at the organization’s annual meeting in Las Vegas, NV on Nov. 16.

Chairman Mooney Highlights Dairy’s Value at Annual Meeting


NMPF Chairman Randy Mooney discusses how dairy proved its worth to U.S. consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic at the organization’s annual meeting in Las Vegas, NV. Also, NMPF Senior Vice President of Communications Alan Bjerga discusses some of the meeting’s key agenda items, including the industry’s sustainability commitments and the need to explore milk-pricing reform.

NMPF’s Bjerga Discusses Dairy’s Joint Annual Meeting


National Milk Producers Federation Senior Vice President of Communications Alan Bjerga discusses NMPF’s joint annual meeting with allied dairy organizations this week in Las Vegas. More than 600 dairy farmers and industry professionals are converging for discussions on policy and marketplace accomplishments in 2021, as well as future challenges. Bjerga says a united dairy sector can face whatever comes its way.

Farmer Experience a Plus in Congress, Valadao Says

A farm background, and the emphasis it places on people working together, brings the type of experience that’s helpful to getting things done in Congress, said Rep. David Valadao, R-CA, in the latest Dairy Defined podcast, released today.

“Every time a salesman shows up on your property, they might be trying to sell you a product you might not like that day, but the following day, they’re going to have stuff you might like. And so to just cut off communication with someone because you disagree with them one day, doesn’t mean you cut off communication forever,” said Valadao, the only dairy farmer serving in Congress. “I do believe in Congress. For you to legislate good policy, you have to have everyone at the table and be able to have a conversation about the topic. It forces you, one, to understand the issue, but two, to hear it from both sides and try to represent our areas as best we possibly can.”

The full podcast is here. You can also find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts. Broadcast outlets may use the MP3 file below. Please attribute information to NMPF.


Dairy Defined: Dairy a Key to Your Plant-Based Diet

In diet, as in life, extreme approaches seldom achieve the best outcomes. That’s why vegan diets, which eschew all animal products, so often lead to negative outcomes – it’s an extreme approach to eating, just like other unbalanced diets that stack up too heavily on some nutrients and not others.

So while it could be surprising to some that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans would recommend dairy products as part of a healthy vegetarian eating pattern – as in “What? I should have animal products in my plant-based diet?” – a little examination shows it makes perfect sense. Vegetarian isn’t the same as vegan. And deciding to move toward a diet more heavily weighted toward fruits, nuts and vegetables doesn’t mean a consumer has to travel to the fringe – or miss out on dairy’s many clear benefits. If anything, it may make dairy an even more important part of the nutritional journey.

Here’s why dairy makes sense in a “plant-based” diet.

  • Milk efficiently delivers a lot of nutrients that are more difficult to gain through plant-based sources. Protein, calcium, vitamins A & D – those are just a few of the 13 essential nutrients dairy packages together in an easy-to-access way. Yes, plant-based diets have many of these nutrients, but not all – try getting adequate Vitamin B12 without animal sources. To fill in the gaps that would otherwise require a supplement, a glass of milk goes a long way.
  • This is especially true with proteins. Not all proteins are created equal, and animal-sourced proteins tend to be higher-quality than plant-based ones. Nothing against plants, but animal proteins are just more complete – they contain the full range of amino acids, and plant-based proteins do not. That’s biology, not ideology. Dairy products have protein in abundance, and to most people they taste better too. Just compare a glass of milk with an unsweetened almond-based beverage. The real dairy product will usually have as much as eight times as much protein as the highly processed, lab-concocted, misnamed “milk” that costs twice as much money and tastes like chalk.

But if that doesn’t convince you …

  • Dairy can help consumers consume less. Eat-more-plants-to-save-the-planet gets repeated so often that it’s conventional wisdom in many circles. But the picture’s more complicated than it looks, and not just because dairy is a leader in agricultural sustainability. For example, much of a cow’s nutrition comes from plants that human can’t consume, energy that’s then turned into dairy products that humans can digest. And when someone says, “eat more plants,” not enough attention is paid to the “more,” as in, if you want the nutrition, you need to eat more food. That takes resources from the planet and adds it to your waistline – a phenomenon also known as, “the worst of both worlds.” In the case of proteins, you would need to eat up to 30 percent more of some plant proteins to get the same high-quality protein as a dairy product. And hunting across the grocery aisle for the 13 essential nutrients milk has on its own. That can quickly become costly, time-consuming, and a source of future food waste.

All this makes dairy a smart option for the non-dogmatic plant-based consumer.

Diet is a highly personal choice, and in the 21st century those choices can be based on everything from simply how good food tastes to what economic opportunity that food may provide to what role that food may play in preserving the planet. Dairy meets all those consumer goals. That’s why dairy is recommended for anyone who may possibly benefit from their consumption – and that includes you, plant-based devotees.

NMPF’s Bjerga on COVID Community Corps

NMPF’s Senior Vice President for Communications, Alan Bjerga, discusses dairy’s leadership in getting farmers and farmworkers vaccinated against COVID-19, as well as NMPF’s membership in the federally led COVID Community Corps, in audio from an interview with RFD-TV.


Dietary Guidelines Good for Dairy, Hanselman Says

Newly released federal dietary guidelines will benefit dairy, even as work remains to be done, said Miquela Hanselman, NMPF’s regulatory affairs manager, in a podcast released today.

“Dairy is in a good place,” Hanselman said. “Three servings of low-fat and non-fat dairy are continued to be recommended in the healthy U.S. and vegetarian diets, and dairy remained its own group. In addition, dairy was recognized as a source of under-consumed nutrients, which are also known as nutrients of public health concern.”

Hanselman also discusses the need to incorporate up-to-date research on dairy in fats in the next round of guidelines and talks about their impact on encouraging the next generation of milk-drinkers. To listen to the full discussion, click here. You can also find this and other NMPF podcasts on Apple Podcasts, SpotifySoundCloud and iHeart Radio. Broadcast outlets may use the MP3 file. Please attribute information to NMPF.

Dietary Guidelines Reaffirm Dairy’s Crucial Nutritional Benefits; Fats Review Urged for 2025

The National Milk Producers Federation praised USDA and HHS today upon the release of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), which reaffirmed dairy’s central role in diet as a provider of essential nutrients that are often under-consumed in American diets. NMPF also pledged to continue efforts to broaden consideration of the latest science on dairy fats in the next examination of the federal guidelines, which are released twice each decade.

“USDA and HHS deserve praise for once again recognizing just how vital dairy is to the nation’s health and well-being,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “We encourage them to affirm that role even more clearly in the next iteration of the Dietary Guidelines, to reflect the positive contribution of dairy fats in diets that’s increasingly recognized in a growing body of evidence.”

The guidelines culminate nearly two years of work that began in 2019 with the selection of the Scientific Advisory Committee, which drafts recommendations for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services.

The latest update to the dietary guidelines restates dairy’s importance to diet. Highlights include:

  • A recommendation of three servings of dairy in the Healthy U.S. Eating pattern and Healthy Vegetarian Eating patterns, in keeping with past guidelines
  • Dairy’s continued recognition as a distinct food group
  • A recognition that Americans aren’t consuming enough dairy to meet their nutritional needs
  • Dairy’s reaffirmation as a source of four nutrients of public health concern, including potassium, calcium, and vitamin D, as well as iodine for pregnant women
  • A recommendation of milk, yogurt, and cheese in the first-ever healthy eating patterns geared toward infants and toddlers ages birth to 24 months.

“The panel’s recognition that dairy is a key source of ‘nutrients of concern’ in U.S. diets is especially important,” Mulhern said. “During a time of food insecurity and concerns about proper nutrition among Americans, dairy is a readily accessible solution to clearly identified public-health challenges. Dairy farmers work hard to be part of that solution, and the panel’s recognition of the nutritional importance of dairy is greatly appreciated.”

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans have significant implications for numerous government policy areas, including guiding the types of milk served in school meal programs and setting the parameters for how nutrition programs are implemented and developed.

NMPF Thanks Congress for Dairy Provisions in COVID Assistance Package

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) thanked Congress today for the positive steps it is taking through COVID relief legislation to assist dairy farmers who have faced unprecedented market volatility while working every day to nourish struggling families.

“With difficult months of the pandemic still ahead, it was crucial for lawmakers to come to a bipartisan agreement that helps farmers do what they do best: feed families. To do this, they need financial stability and ways to connect to families in need. We thank Congress for its leadership, and we look forward to working with USDA in implementing this legislation. Importantly, this package includes nearly $1 billion in targeted support to help dairy producers continue to feed families throughout these difficult times,” said Jim Mulhern, NMPF president and CEO.

Highlights of the pandemic legislative package for dairy producers include:

  • Dairy Donation Program – the measure provides $400 million for a new NMPF-backed Dairy Donation Program to help dairy stakeholders and non-profits work together to provide dairy products to food-insecure households and minimize food waste. This program is carefully balanced and is open to all dairy products. NMPF is grateful to Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) for their leadership in securing this and other dairy provisions in the package.
  • Payment Limits Flexibility – the bill includes dedicated funding to allow USDA to provide additional compensation to producers who were unable to receive the full support they needed under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program on account of payment limitations. NMPF thanks Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) for advocating for this provision, as well as the many members who have sought flexibility on this front all year long including Sens. Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA).
  • Supplemental DMC Payments – the measure establishes Supplemental Dairy Margin Coverage payments for farms that have increased their DMC production history since 2014. These payments will be based on the difference between the farm’s 2019 actual production and its DMC production history. While the provision is targeted to smaller operations, it will enhance the farm bill baseline for all dairy farmers as it runs concurrently with DMC up to 2023.
  • Paycheck Protection Improvements – the bill includes the bipartisan NMPF-backed Paycheck Protection for Producers Act which would make the Paycheck Protection Program work better for sole proprietor, independent contractor, and self-employed dairy farmers by allowing them to use their 2019 gross farm income to determine their PPP loan amounts. NMPF commends Sens. John Thune (R-SD) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Reps. Ron Kind (D-WI), Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA), Anthony Brindisi (D-NY), and John Joyce (R-PA) for their work on this measure.

Dairy producers will also be eligible for support in the $11 billion agricultural disaster assistance package Congress has included in the legislation, with additional details expected in coming days. Of note, at least $1.5 billion of this package is dedicated to additional product purchases.

NMPF has served its members as the leading advocate for U.S. dairy farmers throughout the coronavirus pandemic. It has also been an industry leader in providing useful informational resources for the dairy sector.

NMPF’s Mulhern Speaks on Tom Vilsack’s Nomination to Lead USDA

NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern talks about Tom Vilsack’s nomination to become USDA Secretary on Brownfield Ag News. “He has a deep understanding of our industry and frankly, I think a deeper understanding of all of U.S. agriculture,” Mulhern says in the broadcast.

Podcast: Sen. Pat Roberts on His Past and Agriculture’s Future

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts is leaving Congress after 40 years in January. The only person to lead both the House and Senate agriculture committees takes with him a wealth of wisdom in agriculture policy – but also holds optimism for agriculture’s ability to get things done in an environment of difficult challenges.

“I would just say that I am very confident that the people who will be taking my place, they have a lot of experience,” Roberts said in a Dairy Defined interview released today. “They’re good folks. I think the same attempt, at least, with regards to making it bipartisan, will continue.”

Roberts, who first came to Washington as a congressional staffer a half-century ago, also reflects on the two farm bills he led — 1996’s Freedom to Farm law and the 2018 bill — as well as one area where he wished he could have done more: his leadership of the Senate Intelligence Committee during the Iraq War. He also said he doesn’t consider his career to be over – without revealing plans, he said that when it comes to farm policy, “I intend to have my finger in the pie somewhere.”

To listen to the full discussion, click here. You can also find this and other NMPF podcasts on iHeartRadio, Apple Podcasts, SpotifySoundCloud and Google Play. Broadcast outlets may use the MP3 file. Please attribute information to NMPF.