The 76th Session of the Oregon Legislature will get underway Tuesday in Salem. It will wait only until the next day to take up a sweeping new farm law that includes making it easier–some say much easier–to sell raw milk.

Oregon’s Family Farm Act (HB 2222) is not your ordinary raw milk bill. Take Texas House Bill (HB) 75, for example. It’s less than a page. A Wyoming bill that has already been defeated ran five pages, and like Texas, only dealt with the single subject.

HB 2222 in Salem is a different story entirely. It’s been written by Friends of Family Farmers, an organization that purports to represent Oregon’s family-scale farmers and ranchers, and it seeks to advance a multifaceted set of policies to make small scale Ag viable in the Beaver State.

The Family Farm Act, if enacted, would:

— Allow a person to slaughter not more than 1,000 chickens for use as human food without state or federal inspection.

— Expands Oregon’s three-cow, nine goat limit for raw milk producers for those who undergo licensing and agree to conduct bacteria tests.

— Liberalize rules for those seeking special assessment for farmland.

— Adds to the State Board of Agriculture two Oregon commodity producers who are engaged in marketing their products within the state.

Oregon’s House Agriculture Committee will conduct the public hearing, beginning at 3 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011 in the Oregon Capitol’s Hearing Room.  In addition to HB 2222, the committee hearing will also cover:

— HB 2872 exempting persons who slaughter 1,000 or fewer birds a year from food establishment licensing.

— HB 2947 requiring the State Department of Agriculture to adopt rules establishing standards for the identity, quality and labeling of honey sold in Oregon.

— HB 2336, exempting agricultural producers selling specified farm products directly to the public from Oregon laws regulating produce dealers and food establishments.

Friends of Family Farmers put out an “Action Alert” to its members, urging them to attend the public hearing and to testify. The organization has produced a color brochure on the Family Farmer Act, which says the legislation is need to “ease some of burdens faced by Oregon’s agriculture entrepreneurs, while not adding any budgetary demands on the state. 

So far this legislative season, in addition to Wyoming’s thumbs down to a raw milk bill, New Jersey’s Assembly has held a informational hearing, but took no action and has yet to schedule a raw milk bill for consideration.

Minnesota, a state that like Oregon is well known for its ability to control food poisoning, also will see raw milk proposals this session. Legislation filed so far would allow deliveries to private homes and make buying clubs possible. Minnesota currently allows the sale of raw milk only on the farms that produce it.

Minnesota’s powerful pasteurized dairy industry has already said it will oppose the raw milk schemes.

Editor’s Note:  Oregon was originally incorrectly referred to as the “Duck State” rather than the “Beaver State.”  This error has been corrected.

  • James H. Montague

    Oregon is the Beaver State, not the Duck State.

  • Jan Rose

    You wrote: “Friends of Family Farmers, an organization that purports to represent Oregon’s family-scale farmers and ranchers,” which is inaccurate. FoFF is an Oregon organization made up of family-scale farmers and ranchers. There is NO “purports to represent Oregon’s . . .” The FoFF is banding together small farmers and ranchers so that this group can have a voice in Oregon. The farm corporations are large, powerful and monied enough to be able to be heard in Salem. This group of people has the same right as those large corporations.

  • Ron

    Let them have their law if they desire. But hold them “accountable” if someone or many get ill from their actions with this law. NO, you can’t have it both ways.

  • Thank you for bringing this to our attention. The error has been corrected.

  • John D

    What a ridiculous ‘article.’ First, you don’t know enough about Oregon to know we’re the Beaver state and then have to post a correction. Then, its clear you don’t know that Oregon already has a 3 cow raw milk exemption. HB 2222 would simply raise the number of cows covered under Oregon’s existing exemption and license the program to improve the current situation.
    Your website says this ‘news’ organization is based in Seattle, Washington and the writer is from Denver, Colorado. Well, Oregon’s farmer’s don’t need out of state hacks from Seattle and Denver telling us what good farm and food policy here is, especially when they don’t know what the hell they are talking about.
    In edition to Oregon’s 3 cow limit in current law, did you know that the neighboring states of Washington, Idaho and California all allow raw milk to a greater extent than Oregon currently does or would under HB 2222?
    Next time you write an article criticizing small farm advocates or small farm policy in Oregon – get your facts straight.

  • Michael Bulger

    Mr. Flynn writes, “Expands Oregon’s three-cow, nine goat limit for raw milk producers for those who undergo licensing and agree to conduct bacteria tests.”
    Dear John D.,
    By reporting that the Oregon’s three-cow, nine goat limit would be expanded under the Act, it seems that Mr. Flynn is indeed aware of the current limit. Try taking a moment to read the article once more.
    Unfortunately, much of the national raw milk movement suffers from a capitalization upon the immediate. The specter of FDA oppression has been risen, and the WAPF and their brethren have taken the opportunity to saturate the discussion with false summaries of scientific research, which are then immediately swallowed by the disenfranchised without proper inquiry. The arguments for expanded access are replete with fallacies that are either symptomatic of a lack of thorough research or a failing of intelligence upon engaging in such research.
    These bills need only be challenged on their scientific claims and they may be cast aside. If organizations such as the Organic Consumers Association wish to promote healthy, sustainable and local food systems, they should be promoting small-scale pasteurization. This is something I would wholeheartedly support. As it is, they are unwisely attempting to promote such advantageous food networks with faulty conclusions regarding science and are thereby endangering the consumers and weakening their overall position.
    Thankfully, the CDC and its friends have subjected the claims of certain advocates to real review. I can rest fast, knowing that I don’t have to scour my library researching pathogen-enzyme relationships and the like. I have done that to some extent and found the claims of raw milk advocates to be a corruption of the original research that would only have negative consequences for the population.
    My advice to you is to read this article once more. Then perhaps you may assemble a list of health claims put forth by raw milk advocates. Take these claims to a large library and investigate. I wish you luck. Please forward any discoveries to my representatives in government. I believe the Food and Drug Administration works on behalf of me in these matters. The address follows:
    10903 New Hampshire Ave.
    Silver Spring, MD 20993
    Michael Bulger
    U.S. Citizen

  • Thank you for bringing this to our attention. The error has been corrected.