Since January, bills have been introduced in several state legislatures that would loosen restrictions regarding intrastate sales of raw milk directly to consumers. Bills are currently pending in Hawaii, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin. IDFA and members are actively involved in opposing these efforts.
Maryland and Virginia
IDFA and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) sent a letter in January to the chair and vice-chair of the Maryland General Assembly Health and Government Operations Committee, opposing H.B. 79, a bill that would exempt from regulation the sales of raw milk and raw milk products from milk producers directly to consumers. The legislature held a public hearing on the bill on February 2, but no further action has occurred.
Also last month, IDFA and NMPF sent a letter to the chair and vice chair of the Virginia General Assembly House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee in opposition to H.B. 619. The bill, which would exempt dairy foods processed in private homes or farms from regulation, was referred to the agriculture subcommittee where it is awaiting action.
“Easing the regulations around the state-wide sale of raw milk increases the risk to public health, opening up consumers to the inevitable consequence of falling victim to a foodborne illness,” IDFA and NMPF said in the letters.
In November 2015, IDFA members in Wisconsin voiced opposition to a draft raw milk bill. While the bill was introduced and referred to the Agriculture Committee in January, no hearings on the legislation have been scheduled.
Last March, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin of West Virginia vetoed a bill that would have allowed the sale of unpasteurized milk to consumers, stating “signing this bill into law would pose a serious risk to public health.” IDFA and NMPF sent a letter to the Governor prior to the veto, urging him to reject the bill.
IDFA, NMPF and many other organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, oppose the sale of raw milk direct to consumers because it is a public health concern.
For more information about state raw milk legislation, contact Molly Pfaffenroth, IDFA legislative assistant, at email@example.com.