The sale of unpasteurized milk got a boost from the North Dakota House of Representatives with the overwhelming approval of a bill that is now headed to the state’s Senate
House Bill 1515 would allow dairy owners to sell so-called raw milk at their farms. It was approved by North Dakota’s lower chamber with an 83-10 vote.
The bill has public health advocates butting heads with supporters of raw milk. Raw milk advocates say that exposure to pathogens such as E. Coli, Salmonella, and Listeria is less important that their perceived benefits of unpasteurized milk.
Rep. Dawson Holle, R-Mandan, sponsored the bill, which would prohibit farms from selling the controversial product to grocery stores or wholesalers.
Federal law prohibits the sale of raw, unpasteurized milk across state lines, leaving its status for in-state sales up to individual state legislatures.
Holle works on a dairy farm and told the House of Representatives this week that allowing so-called farm sales of raw milk could boost local agriculture.
Public health officials and agriculture officials in North Dakota oppose the bill, as do their counterparts in other states as well as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The sale of raw milk is illegal in 23 states. Several states allow only on-farm sales, which is what the North Dakota bill would do.
Rep. Eric Murphy, R-Grand Forks, told the Bismarck Tribune that he sides with public health experts, noting that the consequences of legalizing raw milk “would be an extended bacterial infection, especially in young children, which are difficult to fight.
“The risk is potential death and potential infection that could cause disability or hospitalization,” Murphy told the newspaper. “There’s virtually zero benefits to raw milk versus drinking pasteurized milk.”
In 2017 the North Dakota Legislature removed a provision to legalize raw milk from a bill regarding the sale of certain homemade foods.
The sale of raw milk is illegal in 23 states. Several states allow only on-farm sales, which is what the North Dakota bill would do.
Bill 1515 in the North Dakota Legislature states:
A BILL for an Act to create and enact a new section to chapter 4.1-25 of the North Dakota Century Code, relating to the sale of raw milk directly to a consumer.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF NORTH DAKOTA:
SECTION 1. A new section to chapter 4.1-25 of the North Dakota Century Code is created and enacted as follows:
Sale of raw milk directly to a consumer – Prohibitions – Exemptions.
A farm may sell raw milk directly to the end consumer for personal consumption.
A farm may not sell raw milk to a wholesaler or retail store for mass consumption under this chapter. The seller shall only sell milk within this state. The sale may not involve interstate commerce. Raw milk may not be donated.
A farm selling raw milk under the provisions of this section is not subject to chapters 4.1-05, 4.1-25, 4.1-26, 19-02.1, 23-9, or title 64.
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