Sales of dairy milk plummeted by $1.1 billion in 2018 according to statistics revealed by the Dairy Farmers of America during its annual meeting. In 2017, sales of dairy products amounted to $14.7 billion and dropped by eight percent to $13.6 billion in 2018. In addition to low milk prices, the dairy industry losses are affected by a consumer shift toward plant-based alternatives. So much so that dairy lobbyists recently revived efforts to ban marketable terminology such as “milk” and “cheese”—even with qualifiers such as “dairy-free”—from being used on plant-based products in an effort to thwart competition. This week, senators from dairy-producing states reintroduced legislation that aims to implement this ban—a revival of the 2016 so-called “Dairy Pride Act” formally named “The Defending Against Imitations and Replacements of Yogurt, Milk, and Cheese to Promote Regular Intake of Dairy Everyday Act.” Michele Simon—executive director of 130-member lobby group Plant Based Food Association—believes this proposed legislation is worrisome, misleading, and unconstitutional. “In an era of increasing innovation in the food industry, this legislation would send a chilling message to small and emerging businesses: The marketplace is rigged against you in favor of large and powerful special interests,” Simon said. “This mean-spirited bill would harm innovative plant-based food companies that are growing rapidly, providing new, great-tasting options for consumers. This bill would declare the free market dead with the promotion of protectionist policies pushed by dairy-state politicians and their lobbyists.” A 2017 report by the United States Department of Agriculture revealed that milk consumption had declined by 22 percent from 2000 to 2016. Conversely, the vegan dairy alternatives industry is currently worth $17.3 billion and is predicted to nearly double to $29.6 billion by 2023.
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