IDFA and the National Milk Producers Federation sent a joint letter to the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee last Friday, urging them to reject the suggested federal excise tax on flavored beverages that contain sugar-based sweeteners. The tax, which was included in a list of revenue options that could be used to fund the administration's health care initiatives, would include flavored milk drinks, such as chocolate and strawberry.
"Taxing food is not an appropriate way to finance health care reform," said Connie Tipton, IDFA president and CEO, and Jerry Kozak, NMPF president and CEO, in the letter. "Given the many health benefits of flavored milks, these beverages support good health and their consumption should be encouraged, not discouraged by a federal excise tax."
The letter was sent to Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Charles Grassley (R-IA), chairman and ranking Republican, respectively, on the Senate Finance Committee, with copies to committee members. It details the numerous nutritional benefits of flavored milk and highlights why legislators should be concerned with falling consumption rates.
"Children and adolescents are drinking less milk - a troubling trend that's been identified as one potential reason for chronic calcium shortages and the rising rates of obesity among America's youth," the letter states. "Flavored lowfat or fat-free milk is an excellent way to increase milk consumption."
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 66 percent of the milk chosen by kids in school is flavored, and 90 percent is lowfat or fat-free.
To read the letter, click here.