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Iowa raw milk bills may need life support after today

Today is the day when bills in the Iowa Senate must clear a Senate Committee or they are pretty much dead for the year.

When it comes to Senate Files (SF) 287 and 310, two bills to legalize sales of raw milk, the Senate Agriculture Committee has sent them off to subcommittees. It’s unclear whether either SF287, sponsored by Sen. Mark Chelgren, R-Wapello, or SF310, sponsored by Sen. Jason Schultz, R-Crawford, can make the deadline for gaining full committee approval.

iowa_406x250SF 287 was assigned to a three-member committee consisting of Sens. Ken Rozenboom, R-Manaska; Keven Kenney, D-Johnson; and Mark Segehart, R-Crawford. SF 310 was assigned to a subcommittee also consisting of Sen. Kenney, the ranking member of the Agriculture Committees, along with Republicans Jeff Edler of Marshall and Dan Zumbach of Delaware.

As the Iowa legislators considered the two bills, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new warnings about the dangers of drinking milk, which is not pasteurized. CDC suggests it is a risk not worth talking.

“Raw milk can contain harmful germs, such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites, which can make you very sick or possibly kill you,” CDC’s public warning says. “If you’re thinking about drinking raw milk because you believe it has health benefits, consider other options.”

There are differences in the two Iowa bills. SF 287 is the shorter of the two, and allows unpasteurized or ungraded milk to be sold to “a final consumer,” but not through any retail setting.

SF 310 is a six-page bill, which begins by saying what the state may not regulate, including the production, processing, labeling or marketing of milk produced by a dairy farm that is otherwise in compliance with the law.

It specifically permits on-the-farm sales, which can be made to a “final consumer.” It also contains a section addressing on-farm production, processing, manufacturing and marketing.

Whether or not either bill remains alive after today, they have managed to spark interests from lobbyists that work the Des Moines statehouse. About 45 have expressed their opinions about SF 287. Lobbyists for the Iowa Association of Nurse Practitioners, Iowa Nurse Practitioners, Iowa Medical Society, Iowa State Association of Counties, Iowa Environmental Association, Iowa State Dairy Association, Iowa Veterinary Medical Association, Iowa Association of Business and Industry, Iowa ‘Dairy Foods Association, and Iowa Department of Agriculture all oppose SF 310.

The Iowa Grocery Association and Hy-Vee, Inc., a Midwest grocery chain, are listed as undecided. No lobbyists are registered as favoring the bill. About 25 lobbyists have taken positions on SF 310, and the line-up is very similar to that listed for SF 287.

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