A bill put forth to the Pennsylvania House aims to return whole milk to schools in the commonwealth in advance of any federal action on the matter.

The bill, introduced by state Rep. John Lawrence (R-13) and co-sponsored by more than two dozen other legislators including state Rep. Russ Diamond, who represents the northern part of Lebanon County, is currently on the table for the House of Representatives to consider this session. Read the full bill text here.

“These days, due to federal regulations enacted under the Obama Administration, whole and two percent reduced fat milk is not served in schools,” said Rep. Lawrence and state Rep Clint Owlett (R-68) in a memo introducing the bill. “Speak with any school cafeteria worker, and they will tell you students are not fans of skim milk. Speak with any dairy farmer in Pennsylvania, and they will tell you that this ill-fated federal directive removing whole milk from schools is a top concern.”

“We have lost an entire generation of milk drinkers due to the federal government’s 2010 mandate that only skim milk could be served in schools,” said Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association executive Director Dave Smith, a Palmyra resident, in a statement. “The skim milk-only mandate hurts our kids, hurts our farmers, hurts our economy, and hurts the state’s largest sector of our #1 industry.”

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“The opportunity to provide Pennsylvania-produced whole milk to Pennsylvania’s student population is a win for everyone,” said Diamond in an email.

Diamond said that due to national and international market factors, Pennsylvania has fallen from 5th to 8th place in domestic milk production. Diamond said that providing schools with 97% fat-free whole milk produced in-state will reverse this trend as well as Obama-era requirements that banned whole milk from schools.

Read More: 97 Milk project promotes local dairy

Diamond said the policy idea is one he’s been thinking about for a few years, and credited Lawrence for finding a legislative form to carry it forward.

“It is my hope that HB2397 will swiftly get to the Governor’s desk and signed into law so school boards across the state can choose to provide our students with a more nutritious beverage option at breakfast and lunch.”

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