The heartland states of Iowa and Indiana are entertaining changes to their raw milk laws, but with far differing approaches.

In Iowa, which is bordered by Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota, lawmakers are considering allowing on-farm sales to make the state’s approach more consistent with its neighbors.

The Indiana Assembly meanwhile is on the verge of adopting House Bill 1129, a measure that now includes language to make it clear that raw milk cannot be sold for human consumption.

Indiana plans to have one of its interim study committees take up the raw milk issue in more detail next summer.

Hoosier lawmakers recently heard testimony that raw milk is showing up at Indiana’s many farmers’ markets, even though the sale of unpasteurized milk is illegal.

Gary Haynes, legal affairs director for the Indiana Board of Animal Health, says more consumers are interested in buying raw milk, and more farms want to sell it.

It seems Indiana is officially perplexed about raw milk.  The Senate earlier voted to make commercial sales of raw milk legal, but the sponsor pulled the bill at the request of the Indiana Farm Bureau.

Major food groups, the pasteurized dairy industry, and major farm organizations have been among those who have popped up to oppose bills to make commercial raw milk sales legal. Bob Kraft, government affairs director for the Indiana Farmers Union, says his group is concerned about producers’ liability.

HB 1129 now includes an amendment requiring all raw milk sold in Indiana to carry a label saying it is not for human consumption. Until the interim committee comes up with recommendations, Indiana lawmakers will probably go no further.

In Iowa, the bill allowing on-farm sales moved over its first hurdle when it got a green light from a three-member panel.  The measure now rests with the Iowa Judiciary Committee.

This measure,  too, has picked up the opposition of a perennial legislative power in the form of the Iowa Dairy Foods Association. Its lobbyist, Mark Truesdell, called allowing raw milk sales an action that goes “180 degrees in the wrong direction.”

Francis Thicke, the Fairfield dairy farmer who ran unsuccessfully for Iowa Agriculture Secretary in 2010, has emerged as a raw milk advocate.  He is telling lawmakers that a European studies indicate raw milk makes it less likely that children will suffer from asthma or hay fever.

Those large population-based studies of rural farm factors did find a correlation between drinking farm milk and reduced childhood wheezing, but the researchers acknowledge they couldn’t prove causation —  it is unclear if drinking raw milk or exposure to farm animals is what lessens the likelihood of allergic reactions. The European researchers also say raw milk should not be considered a treatment for asthma, given the risk of pathogens and serious infections.

  • annsue

    Look at the reported illnesses from consuming raw milk and then look at how many are in children under the age of 18. How will these bills protect children from their parents’ choices?

  • Mary G

    Wow, That is pretty presumptious. We do not need food police. We need to be better informed. is a great place to start. You think that Big Dairy is really concerned about the liability of the little farmer? They are so sweet to protect the little guy-Not. They are pushing for small farm raids. Pasteurization is a way for the Industrial food system to keep making a dirty product and then sterilize it so it is ‘safe’. The problem is that it destroys so much that is good about milk, like enzymes (lactose), and good bacteria lactobacilli which are necessary for helthy digestive tracts. Parents who give their kids raw dairy are some of the most informed parents I know. You don’t find doritos or soda in their houses, but the FDA calls that food and Raw Dairy ‘unsafe’ – give me a break. Please who ever you are don’t presume you could raise my kids better than I. And certainly don’t expect the gov’t to do a better job. Once they take away my freedom and have control over my body, they get yours too.

  • Elivaa

    1) Lactose is not an enzyme, it’s a sugar.
    2) Lactose is not destroyed by pasteurization.
    I hope you’re not counting yourself as one of those “informed consumers.”

  • Peter

    MaryG probably meant lactase, which is destroyed by pasteurization. Many people who are lactose intolerant are able to drink and even thrive on raw milk because lactase is in the milk and helps assimilate the lactose.

  • Mary Gercke

    Thank you Peter, yes I did mean lactase. I should slow down when I type. But just like people who cannot make an argument to find those things and exploite them. Elivaa, hope you care enough about your health to find the truth.

  • “researchers acknowledge they couldn’t prove causation” … what a concept!
    let’s see that same cautious logic, rather than being so quick off the mark to blame a farm producing REAL MILK for human consumption, at rumors of local illness

  • Mark

    Growing up in SD I remember once a week I would go with my Mother to a farm that milled cows. We would take our empty jugs and fill them from the bulk tank, leave some money on the ledge and take our “illegal” milk home. Our whole family drank it for year no as far as I can remember no one was sickened by it. If you don’t want to drink raw milk fine; just don’t tell me that I can’t.

  • Mary M

    Stanford did a case-control study (funded by raw milk advocates) and discovered that most of the volunteers who thought they were lactose intolerant weren’t — their digestive problems related to milk were all imaginary — so they couldn’t be used in the research.
    Among those genuinely lactose-intolerant individuals eventually chosen to participate in the study, none could tolerate raw milk any more than they could pasteurized milk.

  • Jen

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