It’s been a productive legislative session for raw milk so far. As usual, a number of bills have been introduced this session to legalize or expand raw milk sales or distribution. Two have already passed into law with the possibility of several others to follow.
The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) has worked in support of a number of these bills. This has the potential to be the best legislative session for raw milk since FTCLDF has been in existence (since 2007).
Here’s a rundown of the bills:
Currently, the law only allows the licensed sale of raw milk; otherwise, raw milk can go only for personal use by producers and their families. Under Senate Bill 360 (SB 360), herdshare dairies of “up to 5 cattle or 15 goats or sheep” could distribute raw milk and raw milk products to shareholders. SB 360 was referred to the Joint Committee on Environment.
Currently, raw dairy sales are prohibited. Senate Bill 588 (SB 588) would allow sales either at a farm or farmstand; under this bill, the State Health Department may adopt rules to regulate production and distribution but must be consistent with laws in other states that allow the sale of raw milk and raw milk products. SB 588 passed both the Senate Agriculture Committee and the Senate Health Committee with amendments and was then referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection.
Senate Bill 381 (SB 381), deferred by both the Senate Agriculture and Health Committees, would allow distribution of raw milk at a farm or farmstand through herdshares that have registered with the Department of Health; however, the Department would have no rule-making power over herdshares. SB 381 was also referred to the Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection.
ILLINOIS – HB 2690
By policy the state has allowed the on-farm sale of raw milk for over 30 years; recently, the Illinois Department of Public Health has tried to impose burdensome regulations on the sale and production of raw milk claiming it had to do so because its sale was illegal. House Bill 2690 (HB 2690) would codify the long-standing policy and officially make the on-farm sale of raw milk legal. HB 2690 has been referred to the House Judiciary Civil Committee.
Current law prohibits the sale of raw milk. House Bill 1346 (HB 1346) would recognize the legality of herdshares in Indiana; the bill would allow a person to obtain raw milk from animals, solely or partially owned by either the individual or members of the individual’s family or employer. Numerous herdshares exist in Indiana, but current law does not expressly prohibit or allow them. HB 1346 was referred to the House Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.
House File 209 (HF 209) would legalize the sale of unpasteurized and ungraded milk and milk products as commercial feed for animals. The bill requires a label stating, “It is not legal to sell raw milk for human consumption in Iowa. This product is intended to be used solely for commercial feed to be consumed by animals.” There would be no permit or inspection requirement if all the dairy does is sell milk or milk products as commercial feed. HF 209 would make it a misdemeanor to resell raw dairy products sold as commercial feed. Under the bill, “sale” is defined to include herdshares, effectively banning herdshares in Iowa. The bill was referred to the House Agriculture Committee.
Legislative Drawer 229 (LD 229) would exempt from licensing “a milk distributor who daily produces for sale less than 20 gallons of raw milk or daily processes less than 20 gallons of raw milk into cheese aged at least 60 days, yogurt, cream, butter or kefir or other dairy product.” Labeling and signage would be required, but sales could be at the farm, a farmstand or farmers market in Maine. The bill was referred to the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and scheduled for a March 12 public hearing.
Legislative Drawer 312 (LD 312) would exempt on-farm sales of raw dairy products from state licensing and inspection requirements if the sales are made directly to an “end consumer”, the consumer is allowed to visually inspect the farm, the farm does not advertise in any way, and the farmer completes a course in dairy sanitation every three years and displays the course certificate at the point-of-sale. The farmer also would have to post at the point-of-sale the results of a water test. LD 312 was referred to the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.
Under House Bill 245 (HB 245), small dairies (i.e., herds of lactating animals with no more than 7 cows or 15 goats or 15 sheep) would be able to sell raw milk and raw milk products on the farm if they obtain a small herd exemption permit. HB 245 includes requirements for testing, labeling and signage; Grade A dairies complying with these requirements may also sell raw milk and raw milk products on the farm. The labeling and signage must read: “This product, sold for personal use and not for resale, is fresh whole milk that has not been pasteurized. Neither this farm nor the milk sold by this farm has been inspected by the state of Montana. The consumer assumes liability for health issues that may result from the consumption of this product.”
Herdshares would be exempt from the bill’s requirements if there is a written contract showing that the individual obtaining milk from the dairy has a bona fide ownership interest in the herd; the contract must also include a notification that the raw milk is not pasteurized. HB 245 passed out of the House and was referred to a Senate committee.
Assembly Bill 543 (A 543) would allow the on-farm sale of raw milk and raw milk products subject to licensing, testing and inspection. Producers would have to sign an affidavit stating that they would not use growth hormones in the production of raw milk. Labeling and signage would be required to state, “Raw milk does not provide the protection of pasteurization.” Herdshares would be exempt from the bill’s requirements. A 543 was voted out of committee last September, but no vote on the Assembly floor has been scheduled.
A Senate companion bill, S 1285, was referred to the Senate Economic Growth Committee in 2014.
Under current law, the state’s position is that any producer distributing raw milk must have a permit. Assembly Bill 3689 (A 3689) would recognize the legality of shared animal ownership agreements in which an individual acquires an ownership interest in a milk-producing animal. The bill was referred to the Assembly Agriculture Committee.
Current law allows the on-farm sale of raw milk subject to herd size limitations but prohibits advertising. House Bill 2446 (HB 2446) would remove the advertising ban. This bill stems from a settlement between dairy farmer Christine Anderson and the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) over a lawsuit challenging the advertising ban. Under the terms of the settlement, ODA stopped enforcing the ban; however, if the bill does not pass this session, the Department will resume enforcement. HB 2446 was referred to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
The Raw Milk Act, Senate Bill 91 (SB 91), would legalize the sale of raw cow’s and goat’s milk, giving the state Milk Commission power to issue rules governing the production and sale of raw milk. The bill itself contains several requirements: the milk must be sold within five days from the date of production, labeling and signage must be at the point-of-sale, and a permit is required for anyone selling more than 20 quarts of milk or cream made from more than 20 quarts of milk. SB 91 was referred to the Senate Environment Agriculture Committee; at the hearing on March 4, the Committee recommended to hold the bill for further study.
Current law allows the sale of raw milk by licensed producers at the farm and at farmers markets; licensees are subject to requirements that were initially instituted for Grade A producers and manufactured milk producers. Senate Bill 45 (SB 45) would also allow the sale of raw cream but would limit sales on the farm and through delivery. Producers could deliver to farmers markets but no longer sell there. The bill would create a separate category for “raw milk for human consumption” with its own regulations issued by the Department of Agriculture. SB 45 passed the Senate and the House and has been signed into law. The bill was drafted by a workgroup that included among others, raw milk producers, consumers, and officials from the South Dakota Department of Agriculture that met several times in 2014.
Under current law, producers must have a license to sell raw milk and raw milk products; sales are restricted to the farm. Under House Bill 91 (HB 91), producers could sell at farmers markets and also deliver to the consumer’s residence; they could also contract with an agent for transport and delivery. The Texas State Department of Public Health would be given power to issue rules for the safe storing, handling and transporting of raw dairy for sale. HB 91 was referred to the House Public Health Committee.
The latest version of House Bill 104 (HB 104) would remove the current statutory prohibition on the distribution of raw milk through “cow-sharing programs” if there were no more than “2 cows, 10 goats and 10 sheep per farm” in the program. HB 104 passed the House on March 5, passed the Senate on March 12 and is enroute to the governor.
Under current law, there is a two-tier system for raw milk sales; tier 1 allows the sale of 87.5 or fewer gallons per week direct to consumers on the farm only provided the farm meets basic sanitary standards and other requirements outlined in statutes. Tier 2 allows farmers who meet additional requirements (e.g., milk testing) to sell up to 40 gallons a day on the farm as well as through delivery direct to the consumer and at farmers markets. House Bill 426 (H 426) would change this to create a 3-tier system with expanded sales for producers.
Under the new tier 1, farmers could sell on farm up to 70 gallons’ worth per week of raw milk or dairy products (as listed in the bill) made from raw milk; these farmers would have to meet only basic sanitary requirements. Under tier 2, farmers who also met additional requirements such as recordkeeping and labeling could sell on farm up to 100 gallons’ worth per week of raw dairy products. Tier 3 would require producers to meet additional standards beyond those for tier 2; these producers could sell more than 100 gallons per week of raw dairy products on farm, through delivery, at farmers markets and to CSAs. Tier 3 producers who obtain a license could sell raw milk (but not raw milk products) at retail establishments. Tier 3 producers under H 426 would not have to do as much milk testing as tier 2 producers have to do under the current system.
House Bill 1461 (HB 1461) would have legalized the unlicensed, unregulated sale of raw milk by any producer who owns three or fewer milking cows, provided that the sale be direct to consumer and that the milk container be labeled with the owner’s name and address and the statement, “Not for resale – processed and prepared without state inspection.” HB 1461 was referred to the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee but did not make it out of subcommittee.
There are three bills that have been introduced in the West Virginia Legislature this session. House Bill 2448 (HB 2448) would legalize sales of raw cow’s milk while House Bill 2449 (HB 2449) and Senate Bill 30 (SB 30) would allow the distribution of raw milk through herdshare agreements. SB 30 is the bill that has traction; it passed out of the Senate and the House and is on the governor’s desk.
Under SB 30, the shareholder must sign a written document acknowledging the “inherent dangers of consuming raw milk” and must release the producer from liability; the agreement must be reported to both the Department of Agriculture and Bureau of Public Health. The dairy must meet animal health requirements established by the state veterinarian. A licensed physician who makes a diagnosis that can be attributed directly to the consumption of raw milk is required to report nonidentifying information to a county health officer; rules regarding the contents of the report are to be proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Governor Matt Mead signed into law groundbreaking legislation, the Food Freedom Act, House Bill 56 (HB 56), on March 3. The bill allows the unlicensed, unregulated direct sale from farm to consumer of any food except meat; the only requirement is that the producer inform the consumer that the food being sold is not from a licensed or regulated source. Producers can sell any raw dairy product, including un-aged cheese. The bill went into effect immediately.
YOUR FUND AT WORK
Services provided by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) go beyond providing legal representation for members in court cases.
Educational and Political Action Services also provide an avenue for FTCLDF to build grassroots activism to create the most favorable regulatory climate possible. In addition to advising on bill language, FTCLDF supports favorable legislation via action alerts, social media outreach, and the online petition service.
You can help FTCLDF by becoming a member or donating today.
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