Avian flu stopped the legalization of raw milk in Colorado this year. 

Or at least that’s why direct sales of unpasteurized milk fall short of getting anywhere, with only a week left in the legislative session, with big topics like property taxes likely to take up all the remaining time.

The bill officially died Thursday when it was laid over to the day after the current legislative session ends.

Avian flu leaped from poultry to cattle earlier this year, making headlines in March. This was when USDA officials detected the presence of the highly pathogenic avian flu in raw milk.

This brought the commercial pasteurization process — which raw milk doesn’t undergo — under scrutiny for killing harmful bacteria and viruses, including the avian flu.

The Colorado bill, SB24-043, saw only one hearing in January and collected hardly any testimony. There was no movement of the dime for the bill allowing the sale of raw milk directly to consumers from registered dairy farmers who follow certain new rules around labeling, storage, and transportation.

Colorado, where the Legislature is in the hands of Democrats, is a different test for raw milk advocates.

SB24-043 is sponsored by Democrat Sen. Dylan Roberts, elected from the 8th District in 2022. Also on the bill are the Democratic House Speaker Julie McCluskie and Republican Sen. Byron Felton of the 1st District. Prospects for SB24-043 seemed good when the session began

And it was widely expected that Colorado Gov. Jared Polis would enthusiastically sign SB24-043. Polis was a Food Freedom caucus member during five terms in the U.S. House.

But that’s all fallen apart.

It leaves Colorado with some of the country’s toughest regulations against raw milk. If you want unpasteurized milk in Colorado, you have to buy cow or goat shares.

The sponsors would have the public believe that concern about avian flu spreading to raw milk was why their bill was allowed to die.

However, SB24-043 was dead long before the latest round of concerns about the spread of avian flu.

It was dead by April 4 when SB24-026 was “Engrossed and ReEngrossed” into a Water Resources and Agriculture Review. Measure.

Sen. Roberts plans some interim study and bringing the raw milk bill back next year,

The bill was passed out of the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee with a 7-0 vote, but that was in January.  A raw milk inspection would have run $125,000.

During transport, raw milk would have to be kept at or below 40 degrees and violations would be $500 each. And labels would be required to call out increased risks of foodborne illnesses.

Roberts says the timing for a “food freedom” bill just wasn’t right this year

The Colorado Legislature will adjourn by May 8.

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