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It’s clear that soymilk and almond milk are accurate labels. The DAIRY Pride Act is anti-consumer and likely unconstitutional; it should be rejected.

The dairy industry has a long and loving relationship with the federal government. From last year’s $20 million cheese bailout by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to the famous government-overseen “Got Milk” campaign, the feds have been consistently happy to put taxpayer dollars into the pockets of Big Dairy.

So I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that legislation has been proposed in the Senate to promote dairy consumption by cracking down on plant-based competition, such as almond milk and soymilk.

Specifically, the “Dairy PRIDE Act” (I am not making up that bill name) would prohibit soymilk and almond milk makers from using the word “milk” on their packaging, cashew cheese companies from calling their products “cheese,” and so on.

Thus, companies would be forced to rename their products in confusing ways or face punishment from the Food and Drug Administration.

The bill’s requirement is based on the Depression-era FDA definition that milk can be defined only as “the lacteal secretions ... from one or more healthy cows.”

Clearly, this definition fails to stand up to common sense, as any goat milk producer or soymilk consumer could attest to, and it’s difficult to imagine how relabeling these dairy alternatives possibly could create more clarity for consumers.

For example, the company Miyoko’s Kitchen currently produces artisanal dairy-free cheeses, but because of antiquated and confusion-inducing FDA regulations, the company has to refer to its cheeses as “cultured nut products.” Good luck making the argument that “cultured nut product” explains the product to consumers more clearly than “vegan cheese” would.

The dairy industry would have us believe that consumers’ increasing desire to buy almond milk is because they are being tricked by the word “milk” into thinking this product comes from some elusive breed of almond cows. No lawmakers have specifically targeted Milk of Magnesia yet, but it certainly appears to fall into the category of shady dairy impersonators.

It’s obvious that consumers are choosing dairy alternatives because they are confused. They’re choosing them exactly because they do not contain dairy. The real goal of this legislation is to increase dairy consumption by confusing consumers and countering consumer preferences.

Not only is this legislation anti-competitive, it also is unconstitutional. While corporate free speech is not protected to the same degree as individual free speech, the government still is required to make a compelling argument if it plans to infringe on corporate speech. And, no, making an arbitrary decision to privilege one industry over another does not meet the definition of “compelling.”

While this prohibition on the word “milk” would be a costly annoyance for plant-based alternatives, it’s not going to bring back a golden age for dairy. Americans are drinking nearly 40% less cow milk than they were a few decades ago. On the other hand, almond milk alone has expanded its sales by 250% over the past five years.

Still, the fact that such an absurd definition from the 1930s remains on the FDA’s books creates market uncertainty for producers of dairy alternatives such as Miyoko’s Kitchen, which is why my organization, the Good Food Institute, filed a Freedom of Information lawsuit earlier this year as the first step in a plan that will eliminate these anti-competitive Standards of Identity that promote animal foods over plant foods.

It’s clear that soymilk and almond milk are accurate labels. The DAIRY Pride Act is anti-consumer and likely unconstitutional; it should be rejected.

Negowetti taught food law for five years at Valparaiso University Law School, sits on the board of the Food & Drug Law Journal, and is a founding member of the Academy of Food Law & Policy. She serves as policy director for The Good Food Institute and lives in Chesterton, Ind.

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