Assemblyman Chris Tague (R,C,I-Schoharie), the ranking member of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture, was joined today by lawmakers, farmers, agricultural advocates, nutritional experts and education officials for a press conference at Ridgedale Farm in Sharon Springs, where he formally announced his legislation (A.9990) to return New York state-produced whole and 2% milk to the state’s school cafeterias. This bill combats a federal prohibition on the distribution of these types of milk, which was implemented roughly a decade ago.
While this prohibition was initially implemented to combat trends of rising childhood obesity and type-2 diabetes, these trends have only continued since its implementation. Challenging the perception held by many that whole and 2% milk is less healthy than skim or 1% milk, new findings are emerging that suggests children who consume whole and 2% milk have lower risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes, lower blood pressure, an increased satiety without weight gain and better sleep.
The removal of these milk options from schools has been harmful to farmers as well, who have long counted on revenue from milk sales to schools for their farms to remain viable as businesses. By passing this legislation, Tague hopes to encourage children to get the vital nutrition their growing bodies need from milk, while also providing New York state farmers the opportunity to get more of their fresh dairy back into schools throughout the state.
“Taking whole and 2% milk out of our school lunch programs has helped nobody. It’s done nothing but remove options for kids to get the nutrients they need from dairy, while devastating dairy farms and agricultural communities in upstate New York,” said Tague. “I was absolutely honored to be joined today by experts in education and nutrition to explain why it’s critical we restore these milk options and encourage kids to get the vitamins and minerals they need to learn and grow.”
“If we want to ensure children benefit from the essential nutrients that milk provides, the best step we can take is to bring high-quality, whole and 2% milk from New York state dairy farms to lunchrooms across the state,” said Sen. George Borrello, ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “The federal government’s misguided ban on these milk varieties has only resulted in kids drinking less milk, while filling up on less healthy options. Meanwhile, the decreased consumption has only added to the struggles of our dairy farmers. This was a decision that has benefitted no one. It's time to address it by passing this important legislation.”
“As a dairy farmer, my family and I have dedicated our lives to providing nutritious dairy products to New York families,” said Ray Dykeman, Northeast Dairy Producers Association board director and owner of Dykeman and Sons Dairy Farm. “Milk is nature’s perfect beverage and stands alone among other beverages due to its nutritional value, satisfying taste and affordability. With 13 essential nutrients, milk provides the vitamins, minerals, and fat that children need for building strong bones, muscles and brain development. I appreciate the leadership of Assemblyman Tague and other leaders who recognize the unmatched value of whole and 2% milk and are advocating for its return to school cafeterias. In challenging times when farms are facing rising input costs, legislation that will support hardworking dairy farm family businesses by getting more milk into New York schools is very encouraging.”
“Children require the proper nutrition in order to grow and thrive,” said Toby Amidor, registered dietician and acclaimed Food Network contributor. “Milk in all forms — whole, reduced fat, low fat, skim, and flavored — provides 13 essential nutrients. These include numerous nutrients – calcium, vitamin D, and potassium that are under-consumed by all age groups, including school-age children. All these varieties of milk should be available, as they all provide important nutrients for school-age children, who can make the decision on which type of milk they would like to consume.”
Assemblyman Tague is encouraging all New Yorkers to call, text and email their representatives in the state Senate and Assembly to tell them to sign onto the bill (A.9990) as a co-sponsor, and then vote in favor of it on the floor.