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Bill would require new marketing restrictions for some dairy products

March 30, 2009

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— Milk and dairy producers who label their products as having no artificial growth hormones would face new marketing restrictions under a bill that appears headed to the House and Senate.

Under House Bill 2295, producers who state their product is not from cows supplemented with rBST, which is recombinant bovine somatotropin, would have to document the claim and put on the product label a disclaimer that the federal government has determined that rBST makes no difference.

Supporters of the bill Monday said they would put it in a conference committee bill with other agriculture legislation. The measure is backed by the Kansas Agribusiness Retailers Association, the Kansas Dairy Association and the Kansas Farm Bureau. They say it’s misleading to label against artificial growth hormones when there are no safety risks associated with them.

But state Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, brought several food packages to a House-Senate conference committee to show what kinds of problems the legislation would present.

A Kraft Foods cheese package and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream container each had language on their labels that would have to be changed under the bill, she said.

And she handed out to the committee a letter from the International Dairy Foods Association, which opposes the labeling bill.

IDFA, which represents dairy manufacturing and marketing industries, has filed a lawsuit trying to block implementation of a similar measure in Ohio. The group says the Kansas bill would “limit our rights to label products in a truthful manner.” The group also said the proposal would increase costs and limit the distribution of dairy products.

Francisco said it would make more sense to have further hearings on the measure, but state Sen. Mark Taddiken, R-Clifton and chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, indicated he wanted the bill in the conference committee report and voted on this week.

Comments

spankyandcranky 5 years, 8 months ago

What a waste of time! This article informed me that "the federal government has determined that rBST makes no difference." Isn't that enough? If the dairy manufacturing and marketing industries have to pay more for additional labelling, it's more than likely that I'll have to pay more for the product, so they can offset their costs. If our polititians don't like spin, they should keep that in mind during their campaigns, instead of proposing bills to keep it out of other aspects of our daily life. As consumers, we're used to misleading propoganda. Anyone who wants to be informed, will find a way to inform themselves, with or without government induced labelling policies.

HermioneElliott 5 years, 8 months ago

I don't read the labels as they are now. Is this new label going to be like putting organic on a product? Does anyone know what organic milk is? Does anyone really care?

Paul Geisler 5 years, 8 months ago

spankyandcranky, Wow, do you really believe the Feds comments about rBST? I'm sure the dairy lobbyists that helped convince the FDA to take this position would be very happy to hear that!

Lynn731, That should be "Educated liberals again!"

HermioneElliott Some dairy farmers are already labeling their product as hormone & antibiotic free, but now they're being told by the local dairy industry that it's unfair to suggest that their milk is somehow better than the milk that has additional hormones & antibiotics in it! Go figure!

Yes I know what organic milk is! And yes, I really do care! But you have my blessing to continue being the fool who doesn't read the labels.

fletch 5 years, 8 months ago

So big agri-businesses can put whatever they want in, and not have to label it, but local organic producers have to add additional labels apologizing for being local and organic. Great idea, there.

Phil Minkin 5 years, 8 months ago

This is similar to the situation when a Kansas Beef Producer wanted to test all their cattle for mad cow to sell to Japan. The beef industry complained because they feared it would put the industry in doubt, so the USDA bowed to pressure and stopped them. If a segment of the people want to pay more for something they think is safer, why not. There are hundreds of product that have been pulled form the market after the gov first said they were safe.

goodcitizen 5 years, 8 months ago

Wait Wait Wait. I thought we were all about the "free" market and not telling business people what to do with their business. If a business wants to make claims of not putting something in their product that is not in there, isn't that their business? Where is the harm? Except to the producer who does put the additive in and then informed consumers can choose not to buy their product.

Keith 5 years, 8 months ago

"Liberals again! Thank you, Lynn"

Read the article, liberals have nothing to do with the promotion of this bill. It's all big agriculture and their wholly owned subsidiary in the legislature.

portstorm 5 years, 8 months ago

Do yourself a favor. Look up KS State Rep Dan Kerschen. He is the Representative on the KS Senate Ag Board that is pushing this bill like a maniac. Guess when he ran and was elected? End of 2008, right after Cargill lost on this same bill last year. Cargill seems to have repackaged the bill.

Prior to running and getting elected Dan was (and is) a somewhat large scale... wait for it... DAIRY FARMER!

He was also (according to his filing when he ran for office): -Board Member, Cattlemen's Beef Board, 2005-present -Operating Committee Member, Hiland/Roberts Diary Foods Co, 2002-present -Director, Dairy Farmers of America, 1998-present -Cooperate Board Director, Dairy Farmers of America, 2002-2005, 2006-2008 -President, Sedgwick County Farm Bureau Agriculture Association (reference: http://www.vote-ks.org/Intro.aspx?Id=KSKerschenDan) (reference http://www.beefboard.org/members.asp?memberID=1979)

Note how many of the above are backing this bill... no really it's funny (or sad if you are into ethics)

Now ol' Dan sent a lot of people this email:

The labeling law deals with misleading information. To claim a product is "free" of or contains some other component that you can't prove is there, does a dis-service to consumers.

It implies that one product is better than another, which is not true.

Best Regards, Rep Dan Kerschen

Uh actually one can prove that a chemical or drug is NOT INTENTIONALLY ADDED DURING THE PRODUCTION OF THEIR PRODUCT.

So much for protecting the consumer eh? If you are so hot on protecting the customer why not make people add to labels what they DO intentionally add during the production of their product?

He goes on in a latter bulk email message:

The costs to segregate milk supplies is paid by the producers . On the average, the producer receives about 5 cents a gallon for this effort. The retailer collects between 50 cents to $1.00 for the same product.

In other words this is about people that MAKE milk with RBST (RBGH) given to their cattle that don't want to have to label that it is ADDED to the production side of their business. So now that a lot of companies (like Walmart and Kraft) are asking for product that is not made with cattle given RBST, the folks that use it (and Cargill who is big in that business) are freaking out.

Oh but wait, this new bill is trying to SAVE US consumers from evil mom and pop milk producers!

Dan Kerschen, your UNBIASED ETHICAL Rep from Garden Plain on the Ag Board.

P.S. re: the "liberals" comments, all of these guys are "free market Republicans". Free market meaning pass laws so they get subsidies and don't have to compete.

I couldn't find a "Conflict of Interest" form filed w/ the Ethics Committee for Mr. Kerschen either? Oh well maybe he filed one w/ the Beef Council.

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