Attempts to liberalize the sale of raw milk appear to be stalled in at least a half dozen or so states around the country.  But in Minnesota, spring has brought the introduction of new raw milk bill that would ease restrictions even more than one proposed during the winter.

The new bill (SF1111) made its appearance in St. Paul on April 7 under the sponsorship of state Sen. Sean Nienow, R-Cambridge.  It would permit the sale of raw (unpasteurized) fluid milk products and raw milk cheese intended for human consumption through direct farm-to-consumer sales, including deliveries.

The raw milk sales would be exempt from pasteurization labeling requirements.

Since it was introduced, the new raw milk bill has been assigned to the Minnesota Senate’s Agriculture and Rural Economies Committee.  The committee has not scheduled a hearing on the bill, and has no meetings scheduled for a next week or so.

Minnesota law currently prevents the sale of raw milk, cream, skim milk, goat milk or sheep milk to the public on a regular or routine basis and bans any advertising.  An occasional on-farm sale to customers who providing their own containers is permitted.

Companion bills introduced in January in the Minnesota House and Senate (HF255 and SF147) would have allowed direct farm-to-consumer sales and delivery of raw milk products including cream, butter, yogurt and cheese on a regular basis.

Under the companion bills, either the buyer or seller of raw milk could take charge of deliveries or raw milk could be sold at any farmers’ market, farm stand, or designated delivery site.

Those bills have languished since Jan. 27 in their assigned committees — Agriculture and Rural Development Policy and Finance for HF255, and Agriculture and Rural Economies for SF147.

Minnesota’s legislative session continues for another month.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture puts its enforcement emphasis on raw milk deliveries, according to advocates for the dairies. Last year, when about 50 people were sickened in outbreaks involving raw milk in Minnesota, much of the focus was on the insanitary conditions at the Hartmann farm in Gibbon.

Owner Michael Hartmann challenged state officials in court, making claims that he had a right to sell unpasteurized milk under Minnesota’s Constitution. All were found to be groundless.

  • As a MN Dairy farmer, I do not support the sale of raw milk to consumers. As a child I grew up on raw milk, from our farm, but I also lived and worked on that farm, thereby exposing my to the same pathogen loads. The risk consumers take by drinking raw milk far our weigh any supposed benefits.
    Pasteurization has been used for decades, and for good reason. Pasteurization is much like a seat belt. You can chose to wear your belt all of the time and be safe, just in case; or you can risk not wearing that belt and be safe all, most, part or none of the time. I’d wear my seat belt.
    Milk is safe, wholesome and nutritious. It’s tested more times than any other food and it’s the only food we eat that has NEVER been touched by human hands, BUT all it takes is one cell of a food borne illness to rage havoc on a innocent child. One cell that doesn’t get killed by pasteurization.
    Please parents, consider the safety of your children before feeding them raw milk. The same 9 essential nutrients are available in pasteurized milk with out the risk of illness.

    •  We drink raw milk all the time. We can’t tolerate the pasteurized stuff: it wreaks havoc on our digestive systems. We deserve the CHOICE to do what we KNOW works for our own bodies!!!

  • dangermaus

    If you want to buy or sell raw milk, and you’re not representing it as conventional milk, how does it make sense, in a supposedly free country, to criminalize the transaction?
    This seems like the most obvious possible case for individual choice. For all the unverifiable claims of health benefits from raw milk drinkers, and all the vague, paranoid talk about how dangerous it is, both sides are usually talking more about their desire to have “the best” food.
    Let people choose, and if they get sick, the laws should be written such that they are responsible for their choice to consume it!

  • MacGruff

    Freedom of choice? When you go to a restaurant, do you ask if the milk your children are drinking is pasteurized? How about the cheese at your local Bar-B-Que? With milk and cheeses being key ingredients, isn’t it our obligation to provide a safe product?
    Many of us using this forum are food service professionals. We have been trained in the risks associated with foods and illnesses. I work with the retail public daily. I can tell you that many people do not even know what pasteurization is. Most may have heard of it, but not what are the risks if not done.

  • Doc Mudd

    This new accountability legislation, if it passes, could take care of the issue of raw milk responsibility, dangermaus:
    It shouldn’t be the injured consumer who is responsible – it should be the profiteer who sold the faulty product to the consumer who makes reparations.

  • I’d have to second dangermaus, here. Drank raw milk all through college and am none the worse for the wear. If I want to consume a relatively safe and well tested product from a local farmer of my acquaintance, then it should be my right to suffer the risks…