Moving into 2014, many state legislatures will return into session in January and early February. IDFA will continue to monitor state legislative developments throughout the year. Two important issues for the dairy industry will be on the calendars and considered by several states.
The labeling of foods produced from genetically modified organisms (GMO) or those containing GMO ingredients continues to be a highly debated issue. Connecticut and Maine legislatures passed bills requiring GMO labeling in 2013, although neither will take effect until four other states in the Northeast pass similar legislation.
Vermont’s State Assembly also passed a GMO labeling bill last year. It was introduced yesterday, the first day of the state Senate session, and referred to the state Committee on Agriculture.
The New Hampshire House of Representatives’ Committee on Environment and Agriculture acted in November on a bill, H.B. 660, with language similar to Vermont’s GMO bill. Although the committee deemed the bill “inexpedient to legislate,” all bills in New Hampshire head to the House floor for a vote, regardless of the committee’s recommendation. The full House can still pass the bill if significant support exists.
Florida, New York and Massachusetts state legislators have also introduced bills that would require GMO labeling. In addition, Oregon, Colorado, Arizona and California may see ballot initiatives introduced in time for the November elections.
Legislation allowing the sale of raw milk for human consumption will continue to be an issue in the state legislatures.
In November, the Wisconsin State Senate’s Committee on Financial Institutions and Rural Issues reported a bill legalizing the sale of raw milk by a vote of 3-2. The bill will move to the full Senate when it returns next week if the Senate Leader chooses to call it up. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has expressed concerns about the bill, saying he will listen to industry and the medical community before signing the bill should it pass both chambers of the legislature.
Several other states, including Iowa, Massachusetts and Montana, could see legislation allowing sales of raw milk in some way introduced in the coming year.
For more information on all the state bills tracked by IDFA, members may login to view IDFA’s state legislative tracking matrix.
Members with questions on or concerns about state issues may contact Kyle Shreve, manager of legislative affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 220-3533.