State Raw Milk Bills

by Pete Kennedy, Esq. on March 11, 2013

Dairy and cheese groupIt’s been a busy session for raw milk in the state legislatures. So far, bills have been introduced in 15 states with all but one either expanding or legalizing raw milk sales. In addition to the states listed below, raw milk proponents will be introducing a bill in the Wisconsin legislature as well. Here is a state-by-state rundown on the raw milk legislation so far.


ARKANSAS
House Bill 1536 would allow farmers to sell an “average monthly number” of up to five hundred gallons of raw milk directly to consumers at the farm where the milk is produced. Current law allows sales of an “average monthly number” of no more than one hundred gallons per month of raw goat milk only.

HB 1536 gives the State Board of Health the power to make rules on random inspection of farms where raw milk is produced, label warnings that the milk has not been pasteurized, and signs at the producer’s farm warning the same. HB 1536 provides that “the board shall not adopt a rule regarding whole milk that has not been pasteurized that is more stringent than rules adopted for other milk products sold in Arkansas.”


HAWAI’I
Under Senate Bill 364 and the companion House Bill 99, “retailers, distributors, producers and producer-distributors may sell raw milk, including cheese, kefir, and yogurt produced from raw milk and raw-milk products for purchase or consumption by consumers, subject to rules adopted by the board of agriculture for the department of agriculture.”

Farmers may sell raw milk and raw milk products on a farm directly to consumers, subject to rules. Board has to adopt rules by July 1, 2014. Rules shall include standards for production and sale of raw milk, regulation of cow- and animal-sharing, and labeling requirements. The bills were referred to their respective committees on January 22.


INDIANA
Senate Bill 610 would have codified the right of individuals to obtain raw milk from dairy animals owned by them and to distribute that milk to members of individuals’ families or to non-paying guests. The bill died in the Committee on Health Provider Services.

Senate Bill 513 would have allowed on-farm sales of raw cow’s milk and products made from raw cow’s milk by licensed dairies direct to consumers; the dairy would need to comply with sanitation, sampling and testing standards, and labeling requirements set out in rule by the Indiana Board of Animal Health. The state chemist was to adopt similar rules for testing and sampling requirements when raw milk is used for commercial feed or pet milk. The bill died in the Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.


IOWA
House Study Bill 131 (HSB 131) would allow unlicensed sales of raw milk and other raw dairy products to an individual either on the farm or through delivery. The bill passed out of the Local Government Subcommittee on February 27 but died in the full committee without a vote.

In addition to HSB 131, a bill has been introduced in the Iowa Senate that would provide for a moratorium on regulations affecting the sale of unprocessed food, including raw milk. Senate File 77 calls for the moratorium to go into effect July 1, 2014. On or before January 1, 2014, several state agencies including the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship are to prepare a report for the Iowa General Assembly that “shall provide a list of all statutes and rules affected by this Act along with proposals to most effectively amend or repeal those statutes and rules without affecting the administration and enforcement of other provisions.” SF77 has been referred to the Senate Agriculture Committee.


KANSAS
Senate Bill 146 would allow delivery of raw milk and raw milk products to the final consumer and would eliminate restrictions on advertising. Currently, sales are limited to on-farm and advertising is restricted to a sign on the farm. The bill is sponsored by the Committee on Agriculture and has been referred to the same.


MARYLAND
House Bill 502 would amend the state livestock lien law to clarify that an agreement can be made between someone with a complete or partial ownership interest in a dairy animal and the owner of an establishment for the latter to milk that animal and provide the milk to the party with the ownership interest in the dairy animal. HB 502 has been referred to the Committee on Economic Matters. There is currently a regulation purporting to ban herdshares in Maryland.


MASSACHUSETTS
House Bill 717 allows for the delivery of raw milk by a licensed farmer or the farmer’s agent directly to the consumer. Delivery can also be made through a CSA (community supported agriculture) delivery system. Delivery may be made directly to the consumer’s residence or to a pre-established receiving site; said sites shall not be in a retail setting with the exception of a CSA delivery as long as the milk delivered is not accessible to the general public. Under the bill, raw milk can also be sold at farm stands that aren’t contiguous to the raw milk dairy which current law prohibits.


MONTANA
House Bill 574 would expressly legalize herdshare arrangements as well as the on-farm sale and delivery of raw milk to the consumer. Producers selling raw milk must register with the state department of agriculture and must meet testing standards mandated by the bill. The dairy herd must be fewer than 15 lactating cows, 30 lactating goats or 30 lactating sheep. The department will issue a small herd exemption permit to dairies selling raw milk and raw milk products.


NEW JERSEY
Assembly Bill 518 (A518) would allow the licensed on-farm sale of raw milk. The bill was introduced in 2012; the New Jersey legislature is in the midst of a two-year session. The bill also allows the sale of raw milk products and exempts farmers operating herdshare programs from the permit requirement. There are testing and labeling requirements for licensees; permit applicants must submit an affidavit agreeing that no growth hormones will be given to cows producing raw milk. There is a Senate companion bill (S279) which was referred to the Senate Economic Growth Committee last year.


NEW MEXICO
The one state where an attempt has been made to roll back the clock is New Mexico. Senate Bill 286 would make the sale of raw milk unlawful in New Mexico. State law currently allows the licensed sale of raw milk on the farm and in retail stores. SB 286 died in the Senate Conservation Committee.


OKLAHOMA
House Bill 1541 would allow the incidental sale of raw milk delivered by the raw milk producer directly to the consumer’s residence so long as the farm is a Grade A facility and the milk is labeled as “unpasteurized milk.” Current law only allows incidental sales of raw milk on the farm.


RHODE ISLAND
Senate Bill 15 (S0015) would legalize the licensed sale of raw milk. The state milk commission would issue regulations detailing expiration dates, warning labels, and signage requirements where raw milk is sold. Those farmers selling less than twenty quarts a day would not have to obtain a permit. The bill was referred to the Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee.


TEXAS
Current law only allows the sale by a licensed dairy at the farm where the raw milk is produced. House Bill 46 would expand the places where raw milk could be sold to the consumer’s residence and other venues such as a farmers market, farm stand, flea market or fair. The bill would only prohibit the sale or delivery of raw milk to a grocery store, supermarket, or “similar retail market.” There is a labeling provision requiring a warning statement.


VERMONT
Senate Bill 70 would allow the sale of raw milk at farmers markets. Current law only allows the sale on the farm or by delivery from the producer.


WYOMING
Senate File 112 would allow the sale of raw milk by a producer possessing a small herd permit. A small herd is defined as no more than three lactating cows, seven lactating goats or seven lactating sheep. Those with the permit could sell on the farm and at retail stores. SF 112 did not make it out of committee.

Pete Kennedy, Esq.

Attorney in Sarasota, Florida, serving as President of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund and Vice President of the Farm-to-Consumer Foundation. He has represented or assisted in the representation of dairy farmers facing possible state enforcement action in Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and Indiana. He has helped farmers get started in the business of distributing raw milk and raw milk products in many other states.

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