The House Committee on Appropriations this week passed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Agriculture Appropriations bill that includes funding for two IDFA priorities: creating a milk incentive program within the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and modernizing outdated food standards of identity. The bill also includes language that protects USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) projects from termination, which means the bill continues the $1.5 million in funding for research on new technologies that would help ice cream manufacturers handle production waste, improve sustainability and reduce costs.
The annual Agriculture Appropriations legislation provides funding for food and nutrition programs within the Department of Agriculture. The full House is expected to consider the committee’s bill later this month.
SNAP Incentive Program
IDFA reported last month that the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee had approved a spending bill with $1 million allocated for a SNAP milk incentive that would allow participants to purchase more milk with SNAP benefits. The incentive program, a joint priority of IDFA and the National Milk Producers Federation, was included in the 2018 Farm Bill, but funding for the program must be provided by annual appropriations bills, said Tony Eberhard, IDFA vice president of legislative affairs.
“Thanks to the leadership of many dairy champions on the House Appropriations Committee, we are one step closer to determining the best tools for ensuring SNAP families get more of the nutritious milk they need,” Eberhard said.
Standards of Identity
The proposed bill also allocates an additional $3 million to allow the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to speed the process of modernizing several food standards of identity. This amount is in addition to the $2 million that the agency received for its work on standards in the FY2019 budget. The combined amount represents approximately a 25% increase in overall funding in this area since 2018.
“IDFA has been a vocal and steadfast advocate for updating the standards of identity, and we strongly support FDA’s commitment to review them and consider approaches for modernization,” said Cary Frye, IDFA senior vice president of regulatory affairs. “The current standards are significantly outdated and stand in the way of using new technologies, new ingredients and novel processes for dairy foods.”
In the report submitted with the bill, committee members said they continued to hear concerns about the proper labeling of plant-based foods and urged FDA to continue its work of enforcing the current standards of identity for dairy. The report also discussed USDA’s decision to maintain current crediting standards that allow Greek yogurt to be substituted as one meat alternative, rather than increase it to two, in school breakfast and lunch programs. The committee requested a briefing from department officials to learn how food crediting decisions are made in child nutrition programs.
Ice Cream Research
Ice cream processors are eager to discover ways to use millions of pounds of ice cream co-product they must discard every year because no technologies exist to recover the fat, protein, carbohydrates and water that could be used. IDFA believes millions of dollars could be saved with the development of novel solutions and has been advocating, along with its ice cream members, for federal research to help find a solution.
The FY2019 Agriculture Appropriations bill provided an increase of $1.5 million for research to develop technologies for recovering and using the co-products from ice cream processing. In the FY2020 bill, the committee rejected the administration’s plans to reduce ARS research areas and provided a total of more than $1.3 billion to cover ARS salaries and expenses.