Farm Subsidies

Vegan Group Sues the U.S. Department of Agriculture for Promoting Dairy Products

The government should let milk marketing stand on its own four legs.


A lawsuit filed last week in federal court by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and a trio of doctors affiliated with the group claims U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) policies urging Americans to double the average consumption of dairy products has everything to do with protecting and promoting dairy farmers and little or nothing to do with nutrition.

The suit, filed against the USDA, centers largely on 2020 federal dietary guidelines that recommend Americans consume three servings of dairy every day. These latest dietary guidelines, which are updated every five years, were adopted by the heads of the USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and were based on the work of an appointed dietary guidelines advisory committee. While the dietary guidelines don't impose any dietary requirements on individual Americans, they help determine which foods the government serves to prison inmates, members of the military, schoolchildren, and others.

The suit asks the court to order the USDA to stop promoting dairy products, stop "equating 'protein' with meat," and stop "hiding" what the plaintiffs claim are "the ill effects of consuming meat and dairy products." (What are the "ill effects" of dairy? The plaintiffs argue the USDA should not promote dairy products largely because around 1 in 4 Americans is lactose intolerant. The suit claims most Asians, African Americans, Ashkenazi Jews, Native Americans, and Latinos are lactose intolerant, which is supported by independent data.) 

Though I eat meat every day and consume dairy products most days—and disagree strenuously with PCRM about the general healthfulness of those foods—I welcome the lawsuit. Indeed, I've long argued against the USDA's foolish and wasteful promotion of dairy products. Despite spending billions in subsidies, the USDA hasn't helped struggling dairy farmers to thrive. In fact, just the opposite is true. Decades of central planning have harmed America's dairy farmers. American cow-milk consumption is plummeting and the nation's dairy farmers are going out of business. 

There's a word for money spent that doesn't achieve its intended goal: waste. If successful, PCRM's lawsuit could help eliminate some of that waste.

The problem isn't going away by itself. Absurd USDA dairy policies are highly unlikely to change under President Joe Biden. Current USDA secretary Tom Vilsack shamelessly promoted large dairy interests for eight years as Barack Obama's USDA secretary, then left to become head of the nation's largest dairy promoter, and now is back helming the USDA.

Though it's easy enough to blame the USDA for its practices, the real problem lies with Congress, which hands the agency billions upon billions of dollars to throw at U.S. farmers. That said, the USDA regularly goes above and beyond its congressional mandate to promote the dairy industry. (E.g., paying Domino's to develop a cheesier pizza.)

Like many Americans, I consume some quantity of dairy products almost every day. Some people, including vegans and people who are allergic to dairy products, avoid them at all costs. Neither dietary approach is right for everyone. And the choice to consume dairy products (or any other food) should be left to the individual.

That's why the USDA should neither promote nor restrict my dietary choices, your dietary choices, the dairy industry as a whole, or the dietary preferences of PCRM and its members.

NEXT: The Era of Small Government Is Over

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Reminds me of when atheist activist Madalyn Murray O’Hair sued NASA, because the Apollo 8 astronauts read from the Book of Genesis of their own volition.

    1. NASA could have offered to send the woman to space as a reparation. One way ticket of course.

      1. She could bring the sandwiches.

        1. Here is Job opportunity for everyone! Because of Corona Work from comfort of your home, on your computer And you can work with your own working hours. You can work this job As part time or As A full time job.MOi You can Earns up to $1000 per Day by way of work is simple on the web. It's easy, just follow instructions on home page, read it carefully from start to finish Check The Details...…Home Profit System

          1. USA Making money online more than 15$ just by doing simple work from home. I have received $18376 last month. Its an easy and simple job to do and its earnings are much better than DSQ regular office job and even a little child can do this and earns money. Everybody must try this job by just use the info
            on this page.....VISIT HERE

      2. Just let her navigate and it would be guaranteed to be a one-way mission.

      3. Madalyn Murray O’Hair never went to space but she did go to pieces.

        1. See what you did there, I have. LOL snort hack.

          Especially hack.

  2. The suit claims most Asians, African Americans, Ashkenazi Jews, Native Americans, and Latinos are lactose intolerant, which is supported by independent data"

    Which doesn't matter if your eating cheese, butter or fermented milk products like yogurt and kefir because the lactose has been removed in the whey or converted by lactobacillus.

    What an stupid, dishonest assertion.

    1. I'm surprised (not really) that Baylen didn't even bother glancing at a Wikipedia article on lactose, before repeating the agitprop.

    2. So better post some Federal Diet Police, to screen people with their official federal race ID, in front of every Ben and Jerry's, right?

    3. I invite you to stand next to my kids when they eat cheese and yogurt.

      You will change your mind.

    4. Yeah the inclusiveness is a bit of 'Science!' bullshit too.

      Large portions of Native Americans and Asians are no shit (or, ATCMB, lots of shit) lactose intolerant, whereas some studies indicate that 50-80% of African Americans and Latinos are lactose intolerant, only 25% for African Americans self-report as being so and only 10% of Latinos to (Caucasians report 15%).

      It's not so baffling coming from a vegan group, but the fact that this is a gain-of-function is baffling from a (trans)humanist perspective. Imagine if some race of humans somehow developed the ability to support themselves nutritionally by grazing and all the other races suffered digestive maladies by doing so. Defund/ban the consumption of eating grass because some races can't do it!

      1. whereaswhile some studies indicate that 50-80% of African Americans and Latinos are lactose intolerant suffer lactose malabsorption

        Years of cries for an edit button and, overnight, we get a mute button.

  3. The group has a partial good point, but are trying to impose their pseudo-religious views on the country through the courts. Their view is unscientific and bad nutritional advice. Humans simply are not well built for a vegan lifestyle.

    1. And if you think it's hard on the human GI system, be glad you're not one of their cats (which are pretty much obligate carnivores).

  4. most Asians, African Americans, Ashkenazi Jews, Native Americans, and Latinos are lactose intolerant

    ... so, dairy is RACIST!!

    1. duh! what color is milk? We must cancel ALL milk because of it's white privilege

      1. Chocolate milk still ok?

        1. Probably. But yogurt is definitely cultural appropriation.

          1. Especially Greek yogurt.

        2. Not natural. Honest; it does NOT come from the brown cows.

          1. One can get a white russian by milking a moscow.

      2. Strawberry milk could be called indigenous, but it really isnt

    2. Or Dairy is Infrastructure.

    3. If the Native Americans were using every part of the animal for food, clothing, and tools, why are they lactose intolerant? If they killed a lactating animal, what did they do with the milk?

  5. The rationale for these lawsuits is mostly in their PR value. They mostly just want us to talk about these issues, like the treatment of cows, after the story about the lawsuit has been in the press.

    Exhibit 1: PETA vs. California Milk Producers

    PETA sued the California dairy association for false advertising because they were running ads that said, "Great milk comes from happy cows, and happy cows come from California". PETA's argument was that the California dairy association is engaging in false advertising because California's cows aren't actually happy.

    In truth, PETA doesn't care as much about the ad as they do about getting their name in the news. It's isn't just that they're a charitable organization and when they get their name in the news, there's a spike in donations from animal rights sympathizers. It's also that they can troll the media to get everyone talking about animal rights, and that's what they want to do as a public advocacy organization.

    You can't make the media say what you want them to say, exactly, but you can't control the topic of conversation, and by trolling the media this way, they can make us talk about the welfare of cows.

    Remember that time GoT "accidentally" left a Starbucks cup in a scene that went to air, and the media chirped and chirped about it? Yeah, well that "accident" was presumably extremely well planned.

    These lawsuits are like that. They're stealth marketing. It's marketing masquerading as a lawsuit.

      1. using legal suits for advertising or for other non-legal reasons is not great; don't you agree?

        1. Sure, but what can be done about it?

          Misusing guns is a bad thing, too. The laws that try to prevent people from misusing them typically violate the rights of people who have never misused a gun and never intended to do so.

          We point out their misbehavior and make them pay a price for it by embarrassing them. Littering used to be more socially acceptable, too, and so was ordering veal in a restaurant. Maybe we can shame them into cutting it out, or maybe we can get journalists to shame them for this kind of behavior rather than taking the bait.

          Other than that, I'm not sure what can be done.

          1. Looser pays costs and fees when dismissed.

          2. Sanctions against the plaintiffs and the plaintiff's lawyers?

      2. Ben & Jerry's also sued the city of St. Louis for running a jail.

        Woke dickheads, but they do make good ice cream.

  6. Carnivore group Sues vegan group for calling 100% filler, “meat”.

    1. Carnivore group sues vegans for conspiracy to violate constitutional right to life, and pursuit of happiness. Seeks permeant injection against any and all future lawsuits.

    2. 1 in 1 humans is soy intolerant and requires further processing or fermentation of soy products to aid digestion.

  7. The PCRM are Naderite Maoists and that's about all you need to know about them. They're forever pulling stunts to get their name in the news and somebody should sue them for false advertising over their name.

  8. No different than that other group center for science in the public interest. But add an MD after their twitter handle and don't you dare disagree because they know everything.

    1. they know everything

      Only in their opinion.

  9. Tofu is a soyrry excuse for a meat imposter.

    1. Meat Imposter could be a great band name.

      1. All trans?

  10. "Vegan Group Sues the U.S. Department of Agriculture for Promoting Dairy Products"

    Besides just a publicity stunt, do you think the vegans are motivated by concerns about crony capitalism or by offense to their food religion?

    1. They have to prove food is harmful to people.

    2. Not even a little column A, all column B.

      As can plainly be seen from Baylen's article. It's funny that when Republicans want to slash budgets and spend somewhere else, Reason can't find common ground but when vegans want to end USDA spending on dairy, Reason can invent common ground whole cloth.

      1. No enemies on the Left. Fonzie even had nice things to say about 20th Century Genocidal Totalitarian Marxism not being "real" Marxism

  11. You think that’s bad, here’s a headline from the Washington Post.

    “DHS Secretary Mayorkas visits border to tout progress in processing migrant children”

    Soylent Green! It’s ninos!!!

    1. When I lived in Argentina, niños were an actual BBQ dish. I was horrified until I realized they were not actual babies.

      Also, my first week, I got confused by the term 'matambre', which I heard as 'mata hombre' - very different meaning.

  12. I know a lot of vegetarians. Vegetarians are usually pretty cool people. My ex is a vegetarian; has been for about 25 years. I like cooking for vegetarians because a) I like cooking, and b) it adds an extra level of complexity, which I enjoy as a challenge. Vegetarians are typically really appreciative of the effort, too.

    Vegans are a different sort altogether.

    1. "If we're not supposed to eat animals
      then why are they made out of meat?"

      1. I'm about to head to the backyard to smoke up some beef ribs.

        Homer: Lisa, honey, are you saying you're never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon?
        Lisa: No.
        Homer: Ham?
        Lisa: No.
        Homer: Pork chops?
        Lisa: Dad! Those all come from the same animal!
        Homer: [chuckling] Yeah, right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.

        1. Heck, everyone likes bacon! Even my Orthodox Jewish friend who otherwise keeps kosher like bacon (ok, and lobsters too).

      2. Animals eat veggies and grains. So eating animals is just like eating veggies and grains.

        1. Either way, a living thing dies.

          1. There is a Buddhist sect that eats only berries for this reason

    2. We likely developed a brain capacity to become vegetarians due to years of eating cooked meat. Follow the science. But eat however you wish - I like meat.

      1. My beef ribs turned out delicious. I did some long-ish ribs with some teriyaki and sriracha and pineapple, and some short ribs with chinese five spice and brown sugar.

  13. We demand milk from methane-free cows content to eat carbon-negative fodder

  14. Ironically; The USDA should be sued for even existing. Under what authority was the USA government suppose to create a Nazi Agency that uses Gov-Guns to "PLAN to STEAL" from working people to promote what the Nazi Agency wants?

  15. Government needs guidelines for the composition of government meals.

    This seems uncontroversial.

    People will complain when those guidelines don’t reflect their preferences.

    This seems inevitable.

    1. The Guidelines of Government Bread Lines?? Now that's the USA I love and remember --- NOT!!!

    2. That the government needs guidelines is not the question. The question is the process and whether it is unduly influenced to agricultural interests. The fact is that all the guidelines could be presented in generic terms. Say what percentage of the protein is required daily. How that protein is provided could be left to the local entity providing the meal. The protein could be as meat, fish, eggs, cheese, or rice&beans.

      1. "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong."

        Even as simply as specifying total calories and total grams of protein would make it impossible for some foods to hit the numbers.
        100 g protein:
        25 cups cooked rice - 6000 kCal
        8 cups dark red kidney beans (selected for optimal protein density) - 800 kCal
        17 oz. 95% lean beef - 650 kCal

        So, one option is out entirely and the second is clearly inferior and, this is with only 2 requirements and/or ignoring that humans have other nutritional needs.

  16. vehicle coating process; It is the coating of the paint surface of your vehicle with the colors / colors and patterns you want. This process is not only for your vehicle to get a new color or pattern, but also to preserve the original paint. It can be done in a much shorter time than painting. for more information

  17. I have noted that a lot of the comments focused more on the group bringing the lawsuit and not on the validity of the suit which seems valid. What if instead of vegans, the group suing was pork producers who wanted to decrease dairy and have pork substituted as the protein source. Would as many people be offended?

    1. What has the pig's milk lobby accomplished in the first 100 days of the Biden administration?

      So many mammals, so few alternative cheesemakers.

    2. I think the utilization of Gov-Guns threatening it's people is the BIGGEST point in the discussion. People may not agree on how life should be lived but under what delusion does the Gov-Guns need to be brought into the equation.

      Seems we've all become so immune to the idea of having Gov-Guns pointed at us for Political Plan x,y,z no one takes notice that the USA was founded on the principle's of Individual Freedom.

    3. I am generally opposed to all government subsidies. They are indeed wasteful and non competitive. The good intentions disappear very quickly. 60 years ago I remember using government surplus food, powdered eggs & milk, 5 Lb bricks of cheese, oil separated peanut butter on Boy Scout canoe trips. Government, always a buyer of overly subsidized goods!! Not sure if the scouts are allowed support of government handouts any more.

    4. I have noted that you are a moron who should probably be punched in the face repeatedly, but I'm still against the government doing that to you. Or anyone else. Happy Mother's Day, Karen.

    5. Would as many people be offended?

      Yes, I would still be offended by the vegans telling me not to eat steak, wear leather, and drink milk.

    6. WTF ? " seems valid?"


  18. Hey! Give me another stimulus check. I don’t deserve it, but I want equity with all the subsidized industries who benefit more than I. And yes, this is sarcastic.

    1. I just got another letter from Commie-Dictator Biden about how he'll make good on his promise to send me fake money that I'll use to SCAM someone else out of their time and labor of which I'll take and do absolutely nothing in return for it.

      Making good on his promises to turn us all into Crooks of our own greed :).

  19. Department of Agriculture Promotes Agricultural Product
    Film at eleven.

  20. Though I eat meat every day and consume dairy products most days—and disagree strenuously with PCRM about the general healthfulness of those foods—I welcome the lawsuit.


    Because you're stupid.

    Yes, the government shouldn't be in the business of advertising for private businesses, but that's not what this lawsuit is about.

    It's about making it hard to promote animal products. For anyone.

    People need to stop seeing a superficial resemblance to their values as a good and start understanding that different motives get different outcomes.

    1. Thanks, I said this above. When Conservatives/Republicans say, "No, really, cut spending." and then sing a different tune Reason rakes them over the coals for their duplicity. But when PETA (or whomever) says, "Stop eating meat and drinking milk." Reason somehow turns out the narrative that they want to cut spending.

      Fucking misantrhopes.

  21. The basic problem is, we're being lied to at every turn about food, and have been for at least as long as I've been listening (call it 1970 or so). "You should eat a grain based diet". "All carbohydrates are metabolized to sugar, so you can eat all the sugar you want without worry". "An egg each day will result in high cholesterol". etc. etc. etc.

    Eat what you want, and keep your mouth shut about it unless you're offering me some.

  22. Just tell them to drink Almond milk, sugar water with a bit of almond thrown in. Horrible for you, but hey, it's vegan!

  23. People with no lives out to ruin others lives.

    Got it.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.