HARRISBURG – Rep. Clint Owlett (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter) today applauded the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee for its approval of his legislation to get whole milk back in schools.
“When Michelle Obama, in her inherent wisdom, decided to take whole milk out of schools, we lost a whole generation of milk drinkers in the Commonwealth,” Owlett said in advocating for the bill. “This bill paves the way for getting whole and flavored milks – milks that our kids will actually drink instead of throwing in the trash – back in our schools. It’s a win-win for our dairy farmers and our kids who will benefit from the high-quality protein, calcium, vitamin D and other valuable nutrients they can only get from dairy milk.”
Owlett noted the role the policy has played in the struggles of the state’s dairy industry. Since the policy was enacted in 2010, Pennsylvania has lost 2,140 dairy farms, including 230 of them last year. Locally, in Tioga and Bradford counties since 2012, at least 200 dairy farms have been lost. The state has gone from ranking fifth in the nation in production to eighth.
Watch Rep. Owlett’s comments in the committee meeting here
House Bill 2397
, which Owlett is sponsoring along with Rep. John Lawrence (R-Chester/Lancaster), aims to help reverse that trend by creating the free-standing Whole Milk in PA Schools Act to permit Pennsylvania schools to purchase with state or local dollars whole milk and reduced fat milk to offer to students. PA milk that is offered for sale to PA schools is deemed to be in the stream of intrastate commerce.
The secretary of Education would be required to notify schools of the act and within two years issue a report to the General Assembly outlining the number of schools electing to offer Pennsylvania milk, approximate consumption rates and actions taken by the Commonwealth to promote the availability of whole and reduced fat milk.
Finally, the bill also would require the attorney general to bring a civil action against the federal government to recover funds withheld from schools taking action under this act. The measure would expire if amendments to or repeals of federal laws result in the availability of whole or reduced fat (2%) milk in the state’s schools.
The committee also advanced other bills in support of the state’s dairy industry, including:
• House Bill 223
: Would create Keystone Opportunity Dairy Zones to facilitate the economic development of Pennsylvania’s dairy industry through tax exemptions, deductions, abatements or credits.
• House Bill 224
: Would amend the Milk Marketing Law to give the Milk Marketing Board the ability to coordinate the collection and distribution of board milk premiums with the Department of Revenue to ensure the premiums get to the state’s struggling dairy farmers.
• House Bill 2456
: Would amend the Milk Marketing Law to increase the amount of payment in lieu of suspension of a milk dealer’s license from $150 per day to $1,000 per day.
• House Bill 2457
: Would amend the Milk Marketing Law to increase milk tester and weigher sampler certification periods from one year to two years.
The bills all go to the full House for consideration.
Representative Clint Owlett
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Patricia Hippler