St. Paul, Minn. – To give Minnesota’s children a healthy option in their meals, Senator Karla Bigham (DFL-Cottage Grove) introduced legislation for the 2020 Legislative Session that would make milk the default beverage for children’s meals in the state.
“Not only is milk the state beverage, but the dairy industry is a major component of our state’s economy,” said Chief Author of the bill Senator Bigham (DFL-Cottage Grove). “This bill would help promote the importance of milk in a child’s diet and support this important industry.”
“Milk is a healthy default option for Minnesota’s kids that gives them the nutrients they need while also supporting our struggling dairy farms,” said House Author Representative Jeff Brand (DFL – St. Peter). “There is no surcharge or mandate to drink milk or water with your kids’ Happy Meal. The default beverage is already milk in this case. Much of our work at the Legislature focuses on improving the health care of Minnesotans, and we can solve a lot of problems by ensuring access to nutritious food and drink from a young age.”
Both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Heart Association (AHA) support making milk a default beverage on children’s menus to promote healthy habits.
“We as dairy farmers are proud of the good tasting, nutrition packed milk we provide consumers,” said Janet Bremer, a dairy farm owner who brought the idea to Senator Bigham. “Allowing milk to be a default beverage for children’s meals is a powerful way to show our concern in the battle against childhood obesity and diabetes.”
Minnesota ranks 8th in the country in total milk production, producing approximately 9.5 billion pounds of milk per year. However, the number of dairy farms in Minnesota shrunk for the second year in a row in 2019, and over 300 farms have closed in each of the last two years. The number of overall dairy farms dropped from 2,763 in 2019 to 2,448 in 2020, an 11% decrease.
“Family dairy farms anchor many of our rural communities,” said Gary Wertish, President of the Minnesota Farmers Union. “Increasing kids’ access to milk not only has the potential to improve health, but also boost markets that family farmers rely on.”