IDFA and the National Milk Producers Federation sent a letter last week to Virginia’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services opposing proposed legislation that would loosen restrictions on the sale of raw milk to consumers in the state. The bill would allow consumers in Virginia to purchase raw milk through herd-sharing ownership agreements. The bill, H.B. 825, also would remove existing regulations prohibiting sales of raw milk for consumption. Currently, herd share programs in Virginia are unregulated.
“The scientific arguments remain strong and unchanged: Consumption of raw milk is a demonstrated public health risk,” said IDFA and NMPF in the letter. “The scientific consensus is that raw milk can cause serious illnesses and hospitalizations, as well as result in life-long negative health complications and death.”
The letter highlighted a 2016 E.coli outbreak in Virginia, causing 14 people to become ill. The outbreak was linked to raw milk that consumers were able to access through a cow-share program.
“Creating herd ownership agreements through H.B. 825 is a clear loophole – allowing raw milk producers to skirt Virginia state law requiring all milk and milk products in the state to be pasteurized for sale to final consumers, retailers, or food service establishments – and putting vulnerable consumers at risk,” IDFA and NMPF said.
The bill is awaiting committee referral.
Read the joint letter here.
Privately Processed Yogurt
Also last week, IDFA separately urged Virginia officials to oppose two proposed bills, H.B. 516 and S.B. 675, that would exempt yogurt processed in private homes from state inspection. The language in the bills is similar, except the Senate bill would exempt residents who make less than $3,000 in gross sales in a calendar year. The House bill would exempt residents making less than 250 gallons in a calendar year.
“As a ready-to-eat food, yogurt could represent a potentially hazardous food if proper processing and sanitation controls are not applied in a consistent and effective manner as required by the Grade “A” Pasteurized Milk Ordinance,” IDFA said. “Removing the inspection requirements for yogurt when produced in a private home represents an unnecessary risk to public health.”
Read the letters from IDFA on the House bill and Senate bill.
IDFA will monitor actions on all three bills and continue to engage with Virginia government officials.
For more information, contact Dave Carlin, IDFA senior vice president of legislative affairs and economic policy, at firstname.lastname@example.org.