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More milk options in school cafeterias?

Minnesota organic dairy farmer Ruth Buck and others in the U.S. dairy industry are pleased with proposed federal legislation that would allow allow unflavored and flavored milk to be offered in school cafeterias.

So is the Pennsylvania congressman who introduced the bill, H.R. 832, known as the Whole Milk for Healthy Foods Act of 2019, Buck said.

"He was pretty excited about it," said Buck, who met with Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., during her recent "fly-in" trip to Washington, D.C., with the Organic Trade Association.

"He (Thompson, a member of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee) said he hopes it will increase milk consumption in schools," Byck said.

Thompson said in a written statement that, "Milk consumption has been declining in schools throughout the nation because kids are not consuming the varieties of milk being made available to them," and that he hopes the proposal "will bring a wider range of milk options to American lunchrooms so students can choose the they love best."

The list has wide bipartisan support that includes Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., chairman of the House Ag Committee.

The proposal will "provide more choices for nutritious and healthy milk to kids in schools, and a valuable market for dairy farmers in Minnesota, Pennsylvania and nationwide at a time when they're continuing to face extremely difficult market conditions," Peterson said in a written statement.

The National Milk Producers Federation and the International Dairy Foods Association both welcomed the bill's introduction.

Last year, U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue opened the door for schools to serve 1 percent flavored milk in school meal programs. H.R. 832 would expand that to allow whole milk, as well.

Learn more about the bill, which on Jan. 29 was referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor, at www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/832?s=1&r=28.