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Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe Expected to Sign Raw Milk Bill

His office in Little Rock is putting out the word that Gov. Mike Beebe will sign House Bill (HB) 1536, allowing the “incidental sale” of raw milk in Arkansas.

The Arkansas raw milk bill, once thought to be dead, was resurrected for two quick floor votes that by Thursday had put it on Beebee’s desk for signature. Until now, Arkansas banned sales of raw milk in the state. It only allow farms to sell up to 100 gallons of unpasteurized goat’s milk each month.

HB 1536 is patterned after existing state law in that it allows only on-farm sales of up to 500 gallons of raw milk each month. These are referred to as “incidental sales.”

Under HB 1536, “whole milk” is defined as an unpasteurized product produced on an Arkansas farm. The bill dictates that the “whole milk” should come from “healthy cows, properly fed and kept” that produce a proper mix of butterfat and non-fat solids.

The two-page bill also requires raw milk farms to use signage and labels to warn consumers about the product. Each must say the raw milk is sold for personal use and not for re-sale, and carry a statement that the product was not inspected by the State of Arkansas. Finally, each sign or label must include a statement that consumers assume all the liability for “human health issues that may result from the consumption of this product.”

The Arkansas bill is the first major breakthrough this legislative session for the nation’s raw milk advocates. The bill, which originally called for the state Department of Health to adopt regulatory standards for unpasteurized milk, was dead until it was brought back with that provision removed. In its resurrected form, HB 1536 passed the Arkansas House 60-to-19, followed quickly by a 19-to-11 vote in the Senate.

The two debates, as usual, pitted those who see raw milk as an unnecessary human health risk versus people who want the freedom to buy what they want from local farmers.

Dr. Joe Stallings, a Craighead County health officer, unsuccessfully argued that the Arkansas Legislature should not be “moving the clock back.” He said the 120-year-old process of pasteurization has greatly reduced the numbers of people getting sick and dying from drinking milk. Through pasteurization, 99.9 percent of the harmful bacteria in milk is eliminated, Stallings said.

Drinking raw milk purchased on the farm puts you “in harm’s way,” he added.

Many of those who want the freedom to do so say they grew up drinking raw milk and have not personally experienced any ill effects.

Beebe’s expected signature will make it law. The Democratic governor has served as Arkansas’s chief executive since 2007.

One other state, Montana, is close to a second house vote in favor of raw milk. The Montana House has already passed the bill by a 96-to-3 vote. It was among a pair of bills that got a public hearing Tuesday before the Senate Agriculture, Livestock, and Irrigation Committee.

The Committee could send the Montana bill to the floor at any time.

© Food Safety News
  • Ned Hamson

    False freedom has a price – disease! Before the invention and acceptance of pasteurization, raw milk was a common source of the bacteria that cause tuberculosis, diphtheria, severe streptococcal infections, typhoid fever, and other foodborne illnesses. These illnesses killed many people each year, especially young children. In the 1900s many mothers recognized this risk and would boil milk (bringing it to a temperature of 212°F) before giving it to their infants and young children. – CDC

    • So? I’m aware of the risks, so leave me the hell alone to determine what I choose to consume.

    • Krystian Shore

      it was swimming with disease because it was commercial dairys selling raw milk. feeding their cattle spent grain.

  • Good for and on Mike Beebee. Raw milk, if handled properly from cows that are loved and fed grass by bio-dynamic farmers, is the best food in the world. Anyone who says otherwise is ignorant or is a shill for mega dairy factories, where cows are treated like the excrement that they have to stand in and fed grains.

  • oldcowvet

    The ‘magical’ safety of raw milk is unwarrented. Our friend 0157 seems to like those cattle with an acidosis, such as grain fed cattle. That seems to be the talking point. Well, a rotationaly grazed cow, on lush young grass, can develop a screaming acidosis due to the highly fementable carbs available in the tender shoots. They can and will easily have a udder contaminated by fecal material. One line slip, and you have a food safety rsik with ecoli. Thyat is just the reality. Drink raw milk if you choose, just don’t be ignorant. Oh, and by the way, a well managed free stall dairy, which is what most of what I serve, the cows do not stand in excrement.

  • Emily73, a stressed cow puts out way too much cortisol and her health is negatively impacted. But you don’t care about the cow’s experience, so I won’t mention that. You and your ilk care only for profits and the cow be damned.

    Raw cow’s milk, just like raw your milk, is designed to provide protection for the baby. Our experience in our family is that our boy’s allergies were healed by raw milk. Are you saying that I and thousands of other people are lying about that. Even if you believe it is a lie, you should respect our freedoms, unless of course you are not an American.

  • Very good, Drew Wood!!!

  • oldcowvet

    My great uncle, great great uncel?, was infected by Brucellosis when the family farm’s 6 cows contracted brucellosis and they drank raw milk. IT happens, or should I say happened. Bangs has been widely eliminated due to gov. programs. But to say Ecoli or campy cant sneak in, on occasion, is just not true. I won’t stop you from drinking it, that is your choice, just keep out of commerce, buy it off the farm.

    Ps, Drew, cows are no fed tons oi drugs to keep them alive, that is just a fallacy. To say that
    ‘there is no nutritional value left in the milk” is unsupported. Granted forage baed diets favor better lipid profiles, but it is almost impossible to make a dairy diet without some gain/protein supplementation. And if you are going to get the best out of grass, rotational graze it, it is very easy to get acidosis due to the highly fermenatble carbs in the young plant material. That is just the truth.

    • summa cum latte

      “…In the mid-twentieth century, the main illnesses associated with raw
      milk consumption were brucellosis and tuberculosis. These have been
      eradicated as milk-borne diseases in developed countries, mainly through
      herd certification programs which included culling of infected animals…” http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S095671351200535X

      You know better than most people how important it is to keep making sure the milk cow is healthy and free of disease. Of course it is impossible to guarantee 100% that no germ will ever infect raw milk, but processed milk can be, and has been, contaminated too. The raw milk farmer has a duty to his customer to keep his herd tested, clean, healthy, etc.

      • justmamajoan

        Grade A dairies that are tested and approved by the health dept cannot sell raw milk. That is a part of the way the law was written. Tell me, please, how small dairies which are not tested routinely by the health dept test their milk to prove it is safe?

  • RawMilkConsummer

    For all those ignorant of real facts i.e. more people have gotten sick from pastuetized milk then have ever gotten sick from grassfed well cared for cows. If commercial dairies were forced to tell you what the somatic cell count (pus) was of their milk before pastuerization you would not drink it. It is high because of how they handle their cows. Suggest for the health of you and your family you read “The Untold Story of Milk” by Ron Schmid and study the Westin A Price website. As for tuberculosis, raw milk from properly treated grassfed cows was use to treat TB patients as well as many other diseases before confinement dairies became the norm.

  • summa cum latte

    What if human milk became commercially available? Do you think it should be pasteurized, or not?

    • justmamajoan

      This is not even worthy of a reply regarding sale of human milk on a large scale. Bu, yes, I did breast feed. Anyone who thinks that commercial sale of human milk is ever going to happen is living in la la land.

  • summa cum latte

    There is no way for you to know that Guest doesn’t indeed have a degree in bacteriology, residency in allergy and immunology, etc. Whether he does or not doesn’t matter, he is sharing what he has learned from experience to be true. You are sharing what you fear may happen in some possible future. Your paranoid fantasy is not scientific proof either.

    • justmamajoan

      What a person tells they have learned by experience continues to be termed ‘anecdotal’ and is not accepted in science. What I am referring to is not paranoid fantasy. It is scientifically proven. Do you realize that dairies which are Grade A and not certified by the health dept cannot sell raw milk? Please allow Guest to share his/her professional designation. BTW what is your professional designation bedsides humor(which I truly appreciate in your name ‘summa cum latte’)?

      • Krystian Shore

        Hello, i thought i would chime in a year later. If any of you are against raw milk, the beauty of this country is…you have a choice. Just dont drink it. Personally i have a grass fed dairy cow and will never drink pasteurized milk again if i can help it. i also would never drink raw milk from a commercial dairy. i would never drink raw milk from a farm without asking to see the milking area, where the cow sleeps, and asking about their practices. Your right it is not comparable to human breastmilk. It is designed for calfs, that being said it has an abundance of vitamins, nutrients, probiotics(good healthy bacteria) that we lose during pasteurization. Similar to if we boiled our breastmilk. We have been consuming dairy for many years, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, etc. i have seen commercial dairy operations and i see how unclean and sad the conditions are, they boil the milk to kill the good and bad bacteria, but it still to me seems unclean they also homonogize it which changes the structure of the fat molecules making it harder to digest. i choose not to support that type of environment so i dont buy commercial milk. every time you purchase food you are voting. either voting for big agriculture or supporting local farmers. if we as a country lose small family farms what will happen if our countries food system collapses and their are no more family farms left? So if you think raw milk is swimming with illness, dont drink it. There is no reason to take away the right to choose what we eat. we can buy raw meat from the store and people if they wanted could eat it that way.