Monday, April 26, 2004
The state’s largest general farm advocacy organization has backed legislation authored by Senator Jim Wright (R,C,I-Watertown) and Assemblyman Darrel J. Aubertine (D - Cape Vincent) regarding the use of Milk Protein Concentrates (MPC).
Addressing the concerns of dairy farmers, the legislation states that dairy products would be considered mislabeled if the addition of MPC, caseins or caseinates is not disclosed. These substances are often used as substitutes for milk in food products. Over the past several years, imports of milk protein concentrates have increased significantly, according to the Farm Bureau.
"Simply put, the use of MPCs and other additives takes business away from local farmers who have been struggling with low milk prices. I appreciate the support from the State Farm Bureau, the premier farm advocacy organization in the state, on this important issue," said Senator Wright. "This proposal will not forbid the use of MPCs, which is a federal issue, but will level the playing field by informing New Yorkers of the make up of the food they and their families consume."
"The growing use of substances like MPCs is making it even harder for local dairy farmers to make a living because so many dairy producers are turning to cheaply imported MPCs to maintain their profit margins," said Assemblyman Aubertine. "This measure will let consumers know when they’re buying products that may not have the same nutritional value or may not have been produced with the same high standards as locally produced raw milk."
In a letter of support, the New York Farm Bureau states it, "supports this legislation, which would provide an adequate enforcement mechanism for the Department of Agriculture and Markets in relationship to ingredient labeling and milk protein concentrates and caseinates."
The New York Farm Bureau is working at the federal level to have a trade loophole rectified through passage of a tariff rate quota for MPCs. Until a tariff rate quota is adopted, these imports will continue to undercut domestic farm prices.
Some dairy corporations describe their dairy products as "milk products" when they only contain MPCs, caseins or caseinates. These products do not have the same nutritional value as real milk. MPCs are dried protein powders created from the ultra filtration of skim milk. Casein is precipitated from nonfat milk solids by adding an enzyme to precipitate a curd, which is then washed, evaporated and spray-dried. They can be used in place of nonfat dry milk by producers to make cheese, ice cream and nutritional products such as sports shakes.
The lawmaker’s legislation is similar to a bill that was approved last year by the Legislature, but vetoed by the Governor due to technicalities. The Senator and Assemblyman amended the legislation in consultation with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets to address the necessary changes.
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