The Hoosier Legislature is over, but it left behind an assignment for the Indiana State Board of Animal Health — study whether farmers should sell unpasteurized milk to consumers and publish a report by Dec. 1.
Those instructions are contained in House Bill (HB) 1129, a largely technical bill dealing with powers of the state chemist. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is expected to sign the bill.
When the Indiana Legislature began its business for 2012, it was on the verge of adopting Senate Bill (SB) 398, the upper chamber’s version of the state chemist bill. It included language that would change current Indiana law, which prohibits raw milk from being sold for human consumption, to allow on-farm raw milk sales by licensed producers with no more than 20 cows.
After it passed the Senate, 30-20, Jan. 30, the measure was dropped and work went forward on HB 1129, the House version of the state chemist bill.
In addition to calling for the study, the new Indiana law:
– includes a definition of “raw milk” as “any milk or milk product, including butter, yogurt, cottage cheese, and cheese from any species other than humans that has not been pasteurized according to processes recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,” not including U.S. Department of Agriculture approved veterinary biologics
– adds conditions to state law that would make animal feed unfit if any part is “filthy, putrid, or decomposed;” if it has been prepared, packed or held under unsanitary conditions; or if includes any diseased animal
– adds specialty pet food to the previously covered commercial feeds and pet foods
– requires raw milk distributed as commercial feed for animals to be prominently labeled “Not for Human Consumption”
– requires the animal-health board’s raw milk report to the governor and Legislature to be made available to the public
– empowers the state chemist to issue subpoenas
In launching a study, Indiana is following the track Wisconsin took in 2010 after former Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed a bill that would have made the commercial sale of raw milk legal.
Wisconsin’s study took the approach of setting certain criteria to increase the chances that raw milk could be safe if it were legalized.
Wisconsin SB 108, which pretty much ignores the safety standards and other criteria recommended by the Wisconsin study, has not gone anywhere. And SB 108 has picked up a long list of opponents, including state cheese makers, dairymen, grocers and veterinarians, in addition to public health professionals and local health organizations.
Wisconsin lawmakers remain in session until May 30.
A raw milk bill passed the Kentucky Senate in January, 22 to 15, but it has remained bogged down in the House, locked up in the House Agriculture and Small Business committee. The measure sets up a mechanism for shared cow ownership agreements without any state dairy permit requirement.
Kentucky lawmakers are scheduled to go home on March 29.
In New Hampshire, where adjournment is set for June 7, a bill that allows the unlicensed manufacture of homemade foods and raw milk sales (HB 1402) still has not cleared the lower house. That may change on March 20 when the House has the measure scheduled for executive session.
Raw milk bills in New Jersey and Idaho are also sitting in committees, so far without action. The New Jersey Legislature remains in session year-round, while Idaho lawmakers go home April 7.