Several Eastern and Midwestern states recently ramped up legislative activity regarding the sale of raw milk for human consumption. Legislatures in Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts and New Jersey are moving bills that would allow consumers to purchase raw milk directly from farms or as part of a cow-share program, despite recent news reports highlighting the dangers of drinking unpasteurized milk.
IDFA has consistently opposed the sale of unpasteurized milk to consumers, because it may contain harmful bacteria that can cause life-threatening illnesses.
The Indiana State Assembly recently attached an amendment, which would allow the sale of raw milk directly to consumers at small farms, to an unrelated, routine bill detailing the duties of the state chemist. The Senate passed the bill, S.B. 398, through an expedited process last week and sent it to the Assembly for consideration.
IDFA sent a letter on Thursday to the Assembly's Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources in opposition to the bill.
An Iowa House study bill, H.S.B. 585, was introduced late last week to allow the sale of raw milk directly to consumers for consumption but not for resale. The new bill, which is identical to one (H. 394) introduced last year, was referred to the House Judiciary Committee where it awaits action.
The Kentucky State Senate is considering a bill, S.B. 47, which would allow consumers to purchase an ownership stake in a cow to gain access to the raw milk from the cow. This form of rule has become a popular way for many states to get around current food safety regulations.
The Senate Agriculture Committee reported favorably on the bill, which now awaits action on the Senate calendar.
The Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture in the Massachusetts Assembly favorably reported a proposed bill, H.B. 1995, which would allow the sale of raw milk directly to consumers by properly licensed producers. The bill now goes to the General Assembly calendar where it awaits action.
The sponsors of A. 743, a bill proposed last session to legalize the sale of raw milk to consumers, have reintroduced the bill in this session as A. 518. Although it passed out of the Agriculture Committee, the bill still must be passed by the entire Assembly, move through the Senate and receive the governor's signature to become law.
The previous bill had been passed by the State Assembly and was awaiting Senate approval when the Senate Economic Growth Committee pulled it from the agenda, tabling it for the rest of the session. IDFA wrote to committee members last March and sent a joint letter with the National Milk Producers Federation in April to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Senate Majority Leader Stephen Sweeney in opposition to the bill. IDFA will continue efforts to oppose the new bill.
The Food and Drug Administration clearly states that consumption of raw milk is a public health risk because it may contain harmful bacteria that are eliminated by pasteurization. IDFA continues to monitor and oppose all bills that aim to legalize the sale of raw milk to consumers and urges all members in these states to contact their representatives and ask them to oppose raw milk legislation.
For more information, contact Kyle Shreve, IDFA coordinator of legislative affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.