Farmers get black eye from USDA

Now Media Group

A guest editorial by Arden Tewksbury, manager, Pro-Ag.

Despite several U.S. Congressmen urging the Secretary of Agriculture to use the latest scientific evidence that basically would sanction public schools across the U.S. to offer whole milk, and despite the large number of consumers that urge whole milk to be used in schools, and despite several public school officials urging the Secretary to allow whole milk in schools, and despite various farm organizations (including Progressive Agriculture Organization) and dairy co-operatives urging whole milk to be used in public schools, and despite all of the mounting evidence that in many schools it is a known fact that the majority of school children are being forced to drink 1% or skim milk, and because it's a known fact that a substantial amount of low fat milk is being discarded by school children, and despite the known fact that growing children need the fat in milk to properly develop their brains, and despite the fact that children (and adults) love whole chocolate milk, and finally the fact that milk sales have been decreasing, which in turn hurts the prices that dairy farmers receive, even with all of this knowledge, the Secretary and his advisors have turned a deaf ear to all of the above-mentioned concerns, and followed the advice of the National Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee and is still prohibiting whole milk to be used in public schools!

It certainly makes one wonder, who are the ones that intimidate the thinking of the members of the advisory committee?

I personally talked with Secretary Vilsack at the House Ag Committee hearing that was recently held. I urged the Secretary to allow whole milk in schools. I heard some members of the House Ag Committee urge the Secretary to consider using whole milk in schools.

I also heard Secretary Vilsack tell the House Ag Committee even though the Advisory Committee will make their recommendation, I (Secretary Vilsack) still have the final say what goes into the school lunch program.

I'm wondering Mr. Secretary, who are you really listening to? Many of us think we know the answer to that question.

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