Farmer’s markets and consumers’ doorsteps will be the next venues for selling raw milk in Texas if a bill that has now passed the House can make it through the Senate in Austin before the scheduled legislative adjournment on June 1. House Bill 91 gained final approval from the Texas House of Representatives last Friday on a 103-36 vote. The speaker was present, but did not vote. The initial floor vote a day earlier was 122 voting yes, with only 14 voting no. SWDairyMuseum_406x250Since clearing the House Public Health Committee on April 21, HB 91 has moved quickly. It is facing opposition in the Senate from the Texas Association of City and County Health Officials, Texas Pediatrics Society, Texas Environmental Health Association and Select Milk Producers. In each of the past three legislative session, State Rep. Dan Flynn (no relation) has introduced a raw milk bill and has managed to move it a little further down the line each time. The east Texas Republican represents an area that was once so dominated by the dairy industry that its Southwest Dairy Museum remains a top tourist attraction in Sulphur Springs. Flynn says that if raw milk is a legal product, farmers ought to be able to sell it, and he calls HB 91 “a free enterprise bill.” In addition to direct sales to homes and at farmer’s markets, Flynn’s bill includes record-keeping, labeling, transportation, and refrigeration requirements. Raw milk in Texas currently fetches about $9 per gallon, or about three times more than pasteurized milk. The Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, which has turned out members in support of Flynn’s raw milk bills during each of the past three years, will now turn its attention to the Texas Senate. The Alliance’s Judith McGreary told the San Antonio Business Journal that raw milk is no more risky than other foods that are sold without the same kinds of regulations. She said two Texas deaths blamed on raw milk were actually caused by the “queso fresco”-style soft cheese made from raw milk. In the House, the Texas Association of Dairymen remained neutral on the bill even though the organization opposes any expansion of raw milk sales locations and remains concerned that raw milk illnesses or deaths would have a negative impact on the entire industry.