It's always rewarding to see our bossy cows lying out in the green pastures, chewing their cud and enjoying life.

Then why is it that the milk from these dairy cows cause so many problems? Milk from dairy cows is one of the most all-round, nutritious foods that we have. Again, why do we have so many problems with milk? Also, why is it that dairy farmers can't receive a price that covers their costs? Consumers continually ask me that very same question! Why do some people continually want to change the definition of milk? Webster's dictionary says that real milk comes from the mammary glands of mammals. Is there any other food product that can be used in so many different forms?

Why have people in the current administration become so powerful and or persuasive enough to convince the ones that establish our school lunch programs to develop guidelines that remove whole milk from the cafeterias in our public schools across the United States?

The removal of whole milk from the cafeterias has happened even though several studies have shown young children need the full fat in milk to help develop their bodies and brains.

However, we now have another serious problem. The International Dairy Food Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) have filed a petition requesting the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to amend the identity for milk and 17 other milk and cream products.

What it boils down to is the following: Should dairy products contain artificial, non-nutrient sweeteners? Many consumer groups across the country are objecting to the industry petition. I agree!

While the petition would not alter normal white milk, but certainly flavored milk, (especially chocolate milk which is a big seller) some yogurts, sour creams, condensed milk and many other products could be affected.

It's time for dairy farmers and consumers to recommend to the FDA to remove non-nutritious sweeteners from all dairy products.

I've done a lot of researching lately regarding non-nutritious sweeteners and the side effects they can do to the human body! One of the main culprits is aspartame!

It is alleged that aspartame was accidentally discovered by a chemist working for G.D. Searle Company. As you sift through pages of information concerning the safety of aspartame and the efforts that were put forth and the money that was spent to declare that aspartame was safe to use; only makes one wonder of the safety of many food additives.

It's been reported that the G.D. Searle Company was purchased several years ago by Monsanto, despite the clouds of suspicion that surrounded the safety of aspartame.

Should consumers be concerned regarding the safety of aspartame? Absolutely! Why? The US Department of Health and Human Services claim there were over twenty symptoms of distress attributed to aspartame submitted to the FDA. Some of them were: headaches, dizziness, change of mood, change of vision, vomiting or nausea, sleep problems, etc.

According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, the FDA lists more than ninety documented symptoms of aspartame toxicity, including abdominal pains, brain cancer, chronic fatigue, a marked personality change, etc.

As I continue to sift through all this information; it sure appears to me that aspartame should be eliminated from all food products, not just chocolate flavored milk and other dairy products. Let's stick with the whole chocolate milk we grew up with. While I have been writing this editorial, I received a call from one of our Pro-Ag members in New York State. She said she noticed when she used to eat a certain yogurt (not Chobani) she would develop severe headaches. Upon reading the label she discovered the yogurt contained aspartame. She switched to Chobani yogurt, which ended her headaches. She also developed headaches from another artificial non-nutritional sweetener which contained aspartame.

I would urge everyone to contact the FDA and urge them to turn down the IDFA/NMPF petition, and also urge the FDA to eliminate aspartame completely from our food supply. It's time to stop using our consumers as guinea pigs! To express your view point to the FDA, please do the following by their May 21, 2013 deadline: go to website

www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=FDA-2009-P-0147-0012.

Comments can also be submitted by snail mail to: Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food & Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, room 1061, Rockville, MD 20852

Pro-Ag can be reached at (570) 833-5776.

NOTE: Arden Tewksbury is manager of Pro-Ag.