Matthew Prescott is senior director of food policy for the Humane Society of the United States.


The dairy industry seems to feel udderly upended these days. Almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, cashew milk: As consumers move beyond the bovine in our coffee and on our cereal, the industry and its supporters are feeling so threatened that they’re pushing the federal government to crack down on moo-free milks.

More than 30 members of Congress — led by representatives from Idaho and Vermont, both major dairy-producing states — are urging the FDA to take action against plant-based milk manufacturers for calling their beverages, well, milk.

Got irony? The industrial dairy industry usually works to keep government away from its business. The Milk Producers Council, for example, is currently opposing caps on climate-changing methane emissions from California’s industrial farms. The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) has fought legislation that would require reporting of antibiotics use. The industry even opposes government intervention in other agricultural sectors: When the egg industry and humane community joined together in urging Congress to protect laying hens from abuse, the NMPF stood in the way.