The proof that politics affects the agriculture industry is in the milk, said members of the Pennsylvania Ag Republicans at their meeting during the Pennsylvania Farm Show.
During the Obama administration, whole and two percent milks were removed from school lunchrooms across the nation. The Trump administration added some back to school lunchrooms, but whole milk is still banned.
The move has hurt the dairy industry, members of the Ag Republicans said, and it might not recover until whole milk is allowed back into the schools.
U.S. Rep. G.T. Thompson has introduced a measure called “Whole Milk for Healthy Kids” that would bring whole milk back to the schools. But unfortunately, he said, the issue is not in the House Agriculture Committee but in the Education and Labor Committee.
The Food and Drug Administration is still considering changes to what can be labeled as milk, Thompson said, calling products labeled as almond milk “juice.”
Thompson and Lawrence Tabas, chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, emphasized the importance of the 2020 election on agriculture. Tabas said some of the Democratic candidates want to “completely change what it means to be an American.”
“If they don’t like whole milk, if they don’t like some of the crops you are growing, if they don’t like red meat, they can tell you that you can’t raise, produce it or sell it,” Tabas said.
Thompson and Tabas also praised the recent U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. A large portion of the exported milk from Pennsylvania goes to Mexico, said Mike Firestine, chairman of the Ag Republicans.
Thompson said a portion of a trade agreement with China could come in the next few weeks. That agreement is expected to include hardwoods, one of Pennsylvania’s leading products.
President Donald Trump won Pennsylvania by a slim margin in 2016, and Tabas predicted Trump would win again. He said Republican losses in the 2018 election were because Trump was not on the ballot.
The focus of the Ag Republicans is to get Trump reelected even though agriculture is going through a tough time right now, Firestine said. The economy, overall, is doing well, he said.
“Our stock market has been going up, even with the impeachment trials,” Firestine said.
U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser said agriculture is important to the nation’s economy and to the upcoming elections.
“What’s good for farmers is good for our country,” he said.
Tabas encouraged the group to place signs on their property. The state Republican Party is focusing on about 1.5 million Pennsylvanians that are not registered to vote. The goal is to get 150,000 to register, Tabas said.