The state’s farm sector was recently surprised to learn a key government program had dropped a couple dairy products from its approved list.  Executive Director of the Missouri Dairy Association, Dave Drennon says the Department of Health and Senior Services eliminated cheese and evaporated milk from the groups of foods for young children and some women participating in the Women’s, Infants and Children program or WIC .

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According to Drennon, the division overseeing the WIC has submitted at request to reinstate the dairy products but when that could happen is not known.

Below is MDA’s press release on the issue:

The Missouri Dairy Association (MDA) has asked the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to reconsider their decision to eliminate cheese from the Women’s, Infants and Children (WIC) approved list of foods for young children and some women.

“We were shocked to learn of this after it was reported last week by the Springfield News-Leader,” says Larry Purdom, MDA President and a dairy farmer from Purdy.  “Their article said the Department made the decision in April but nobody informed us.

“This decision affects an estimated 625,000 pounds of cheese consumption.  Cheese is a most versatile product to use in a number of ways and is a great source of calcium.

“Together, low-fat and fat-free milk, cheese, and yogurt provide a unique package of nine essential nutrients including calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamins A, D and B12, riboflavin, and niacin (niacin equivalents).

“The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recognize that moderate evidence shows that milk and milk products are linked to improved bone health, especially in children and teens, and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes and lower blood pressure in adults.

“In addition, cheese for the large part is the economic driver for the milk price received by dairy farmers.  This is a real kick in the teeth to Missouri dairy farmers on top of the drought we have been dealing with,” says Purdom.

The News-Leader article stated “other states such as Maryland and Utah had chosen other budget cutting ways such as encouraging buying store brands for some foods and cutting out expensive juices”.

Furthermore, the News-Leader article quoted Rev. Douglas Greenaway, the CEO and executive director of the National WIC Association in Washington, saying “that he was not aware of any other WIC programs that have eliminated cheese from the children’s food packages”.

“MDA would hope the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services would look at other alternatives rather than cutting a product made from our milk and processed by Dairy Farmers of America and Schrieber Cheese in our state,” concluded Purdom.