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Raw Milk Bills Move Forward in Montana, Arkansas

Apr 10, 2013

UPDATED: April 11, 2013

The Montana state legislature is considering a bill that would allow small farmers with herds of 15 cows or fewer to sell raw milk directly to consumers at the farm. The bill also would prevent the Montana Board of Milk Control from testing the milk before it is sold.

The Montana House of Representatives passed the bill in late March by a vote of 96 to 3. The bill now sits with the state’s Senate Agriculture Committee, which held a hearing yesterday to consider the measure, H.B. 574.

Jerry Slominski, IDFA senior vice president for legislative affairs and economic policy, sent a letter opposing the bill to Committee Chairman Taylor Brown on Monday.

“Naturally occurring bacteria in raw milk can cause a number of illnesses including tuberculosis, brucellosis, salmonellosis, listeriosis (spontaneous abortions in pregnant women) and food poisoning-like symptoms, some of which have the ability to cause long-term negative health impacts,” Slominski said. “Pasteurization removes the great majority of these pathogens and, combined with refrigeration, has allowed the dairy processing industry to establish an excellent food safety record.”

The Senate has until its April 27 adjournment date to pass or reject the bill. If passed, it would move to the governor’s office for signature.

Arkansas Bill Awaits Action by Governor

In Arkansas late last week, the legislature revived a bill that had been considered dead in the House Agriculture Committee. The Arkansas House of Representatives passed the bill, H.B. 1536, which would permit the sale of raw milk at the farm level as long as the amount sold would not exceed 500 gallons per month.

The bill moved to the Senate Agriculture Committee which decided yesterday to release the bill with a “Do Pass” recommendation. By a 19-11 vote, the Senate approved the bill last night. The measure now  heads to Governor Mike Beebe's desk where it is likely to receive his signature.

For more information, contact Kyle Shreve, IDFA legislative coordinator, at or (202) 220-3533.


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