The New York Times and numerous media outlets this past week have inaccurately reported on the nation's farmer-funded dairy promotion program.
Much of the reporting is fundamentally wrong. Contrary to the myth that has been perpetuated, Dairy Management Inc. was not created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), nor is it an agency of USDA. It is a private, non-profit corporation created -- and run -- by America's dairy farmers who established it to unify national and local dairy promotion efforts.
All of the programs created by Dairy Management Inc. to promote dairy consumption in the U.S. are paid for completely by America's dairy farmers. No taxpayer dollars are used for our domestic marketing efforts. USDA does not contribute money to promote dairy products in the U.S. In fact, dairy farmers actually pay USDA for all of the costs to oversee the promotion program.
USDA performs a congressionally mandated oversight role over the collection and disbursement of dairy farmer's funds, and to ensure that our programs are consistent with the law that set up the program.
America's dairy farmers are proud of the nutritional contributions of milk and cheese to the U.S. diet and support the consumption of a balanced diet which includes room for all foods in moderation. The U.S. government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which call for the consumption of three servings of low-fat or fat-free milk products each day, are the cornerstone of Dairy Management's nutrition guidance.
The 56,000 dairy farm families represented by Dairy Management welcome and encourage people to learn more about the important dietary role of dairy in supplying nine key nutrients necessary for healthy bodies and welcome inquiries about their efforts to promote increased dairy consumption so that Americans get their three servings of dairy a day.
Efforts to misrepresent this program, and the federal government's role in administering the program, are an unfortunate and unacceptable assault on the hard work and dedication of America's dairy farmers.