Wednesday, March 29, 2017 by Vicki Batts
Will raw milk finally be coming to a store near you? Twelve states across the US are considering adopting new legislation that would permit the sale of raw milk products in some form or another. While the bills to allow the sale of raw milk have been met with quite a bit of skepticism, the fact that the idea has even made it to paper inspires hope for the future.
As it stands, public health officials view raw milk as hazardous because it isn’t pasteurized to remove potentially harmful pathogens, even though many people feel the benefits of raw milk seem to outweigh any possible risk. And with the outbreak of Listeria linked to Vulto Creamery’s raw milk cheese, it is not really that surprising that many lawmakers have abandoned their raw milk crusade for this legislative season.
Currently, 42 states have some type of legislation that permits the sale of raw milk in some way. In the current 2017 session, some states have sought to expand legal access to raw milk, while others are just looking to at least make the sale and distribution of the product legal. Here are the states that have at least introduced some type of raw milk bill in 2017:
Alaska: House Bill 46 recently dropped raw milk and replaced it with a substitution. It is now about “state and municipal procurement of agricultural products.” HB46 will include fish and other products that are sold under the “Alaska Grown” trademark.
Hawaii: House Bill 257 intended on permitting the retail sale of raw milk, but did not make it out of the House, after a committee voted for the bill’s deferment on January 27th.
Illinois: There are currently three bills pertaining to raw milk in the state of Illinois. House Bills 2820 and 3063, as well as Senate Bill 1469.
Iowa: Two raw milk bills sprung up in Iowa, but both have missed the deadlines for advancement, which may suggest that the bills have died.
Montana: HB 325 passed the House in late February, and is still awaiting a vote in the Senate. The bill seeks to create a new category of small dairies, and would exempt said small dairies from being required to have their milk pasteurized.
Massachusetts: Senate Bill 442 is an agricultural omnibus bill that would legalize herd share agreements and allow off-farm deliveries of raw milk by licensed dairies.
North Dakota: House Bill 1433 has already passed the House and is awaiting a decision from the Senate. HB 1433 would allow producers to sell raw milk directly to citizens who will “assume the risks.”
Virginia: House Bill 2030 to permit the sale of raw milk was taken down in the Committee for Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources.
Rhode Island: Senate Bill 247 to allow the sale and handling of raw milk was assigned to a Senate committee in late February, but Food Safety News reports that the bill has not seen much action since then.
Texas: House Bill 57 intends to expand the sale of raw milk. Current law only permits the sale of raw milk on farms, but HB 57 would allow the sale of raw milk at the “permit holder’s place of business,” a farmers’ market, or the consumer’s residence.
Raw milk is known to provide a number of health benefits, especially in regards to immunity. Studies have shown that raw milk consumption can help to prevent respiratory infections, viruses and colds in children when compared to conventional pasteurized milk.
While not all of these bills regarding the sale of raw milk may come to fruition, the fact that any legislation to permit the sale of raw milk has been drafted shows that at least things are headed in the right direction. Beyond the health benefits of raw milk, the fact remains that it is not for the government to decide what free individuals should be able to consume, especially in regard to natural foods and medicines.