The annual raw milk games are underway in state capitols around the country, with this year’s action centered in the Midwest and West.
While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prohibits the interstate sales of raw milk, each state is free to make its own decisions about raw milk sales within its own borders.
Public health experts generally hold that people who drink raw or unpasteurized milk have an increased risk of contracting serious foodborne diseases. But the timeless product has many advocates who claim access to raw milk is a “food freedom.”
And at least half a dozen states are thinking about changing their raw milk policies. These included Hawaii, Iowa, Indiana, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming. About 20 states currently ban commercial sales of raw milk entirely, while the other 30 states allow it in some form.
Bills introduced into state legislatures this year mostly include familiar measures like allowing on-farm sales or permitting so-called “cow-share” agreements that make it possible for someone in the city to own part of a dairy cow and share in the milk.
So far this year’s “wild idea” award would have to go to State Sen. Kent Sorenson (R-Milo, IA) who is the sponsor of Senate File (SF) 61. His bill imposes a moratorium on the administration and enforcement of all of Iowa’s statutes and rules affecting unprocessed food.
The moratorium –beginning July 1, 2014–would cover raw milk, eggs, nuts, honey, fruits and vegetables. The bill requires state departments to report on Jan. 1, 2014 to the Iowa General Assembly “outlining all statutes and rules affected by the moratorium and proposals to most effectively amend or repeal those statutes and rules.”
Food Safety News asked Sorenson what he is trying to accomplish with the bill, but he did not take the opportunity to comment. Iowa’s system of allowing lobbyists to declare support or opposition to a bill indicates SF 61 maybe in for some rough sledding.
The Iowa Public Health Association, Association of Business and Industry, Visiting Nurses Services, Iowa Medical Society, Iowa State Association of Countries and Iowa Dairy Association are among those who’ve already signed up against SF 61.
Other proposals that are in the works by states include:
Hawaii – On-the-farm sales of raw milk and raw milk products would be permitted under House Bill (HB) 99 and Senate Bill (SB) 364, companion measures. The sale of raw milk and dairy products made with raw milk are currently prohibited in Hawaii. (Copies of the bills were not readily available.)
Iowa – In addition to SF 61, Sorenson is also sponsoring SF 77 to allow dairy farms producing raw milk to engage in retail sales and exempting them from regulations imposed on the state’s Grade A producers of pasteurized milk.
Indiana – During its last session, the Indiana General Assembly ordered the state Board of Animal Health to study the raw milk issue and report back to lawmakers. In that report, BOAH recommended what would be required to assure some modicum of safety if raw milk sales were to be permitted in the Hoosier State.
So far, there are two raw bill bills before the Assembly. SB610 is a cow shares bill. SB 513 is a broader raw milk bill, requiring a permit, adherence to sanitation standards, direct farm sales to the consumer, and is limited to cows. It is not known if it meets all he BOAH requirements.
Oklahoma — Currently only on-the-farm sales of raw milk are permitted in Oklahoma. HB 1541 would go a little further by allowing the raw milk producer to deliver the product to the consumer’s home.
Texas —The Lone Star state also currently limits raw milk sales to those made on-the-farm. HB 46 would expand the locations where raw milk sales could occur to homes and other venues including farmer’s markets, farm stands, flea markets and fairs.
Wyoming – No commercial sales of raw milk are permitted in the Cowboy State. SF 0112 provides regulatory authority for the state to issue “small herd permits,” that would allow holders to share in the herd’s raw milk production.© Food Safety News