Two Democratic state lawmakers representing mostly rural parishes are getting a legislative hearing today on a raw milk bill. If that does not sound like much, consider that Baton Rouge political watchers say it’s been more than a decade since raw milk has come up for discussion in the Louisiana Legislature. The Committee on Agriculture, Forestry, Aquaculture, and Rural Development will hear the bill, which “authorizes the sale of raw milk by a farmer to a consumer,” immediately after the full House adjourns for the day. State Reps. Stephen J. Ortego (D-Carencro) and Michael E. Danahay (D-Sulphur) are the sponsors House Bill 247. HB 247 was introduced on Feb. 20 and sent to the House Agriculture Committee, where it did not come in for any attention until today. Neither sponsor serves on the committee, which is controlled by majority Republicans. As drafted, HB 247 would:

  • Open up an exemption for raw milk from state food safety statutes.
  • Allow “incidental sales” of raw goat milk and unpasteurized whole milk, which is defined as average monthly sales not exceeding 500 gallons a month.
  • Limit sale to the farm where the raw milk is produced.
  • Permit advertising of the location of the farm where the raw milk is sold.
  • Require on-the-farm warning signs and on-the-bottle labels.
  • Outline how seller contact information must be listed on the product label.
  • Open farms to inspection by consumers.

Here is an example of the warning that HB 247 would require on the farm signs and bottles: “This product sold for personal use and not for resale, is fresh whole milk that has NOT been pasteurized. Neither this farm nor the milk sold by this farm has been inspected by the state of Louisiana. The consumer assumes all liability for health issues that may result from consumption of this product.” Food Safety News invited the bill sponsors to share their strategy for today’s hearing, but they did not respond.