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Should we tax chocolate milk to fight obesity?

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news New Richmond, 54017
New Richmond News
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New Richmond Wisconsin 127 South Knowles Avenue 54017

The dairy industry is up in arms over a plan to tax chocolate milk.

The U.S. Senate Finance Committee says taxing sugared drinks would raise up to $50 billion over 10 years to help pay for health care reform, and stop kids from getting obese.

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Milk producers are upset that chocolate and strawberry milk were lumped in with sugared soda as a Washington tax target.

Jerry Kozak, head of the National Milk Producers' Federation, says kids need more calcium, and flavored milk provides it without adding too many calories. Connie Tipton, CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association, calls the idea penny-wise and pound-foolish.

Finance committee member Charles Grassley, a Democrat from Iowa, said the chocolate milk tax was thrown in without much discussion. Grassley, a farmer himself, says he opposes a tax on sweetened drinks.

He thinks it will be one of the first things dropped when health funding gets debated. Kozak said he couldn't imagine why anyone would discourage flavored milk consumption with a new tax.

Milk sellers are already hurting, as the recession has folks spending less at restaurants and the grocery store.

Wisconsin has almost $6.5 billion a year in milk sales, in a dairy industry with more than 80,000 jobs.

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