Tennessee Food Freedom Act Now LawJuly 15, 2022
Appellate Court Upholds Raw Butter BanAugust 12, 2022
Although not as many raw milk bills were introduced in 2022 as in past years, the bills before the legislatures this session overall made significant progress, including a major bill in Georgia that was signed into law. Two other state legislatures that have been traditionally hostile came much closer to passing bills than in the past; overall, opposition to raw milk legislation continues to decline. Raw milk bills before the legislatures in 2022 include the following states.
On May 13, Governor Brian Kemp signed into law House Bill 1175 (HB 1175), also known as the Georgia Raw Dairy Act. HB 1175 legalizes the sale of raw milk for human consumption direct to the consumer by licensed dairies. The new law will go into effect July 1, 2023.
What was unusual about HB 1175 was that the driving force behind the bill was the Georgia Milk Producers (GMP), a conventional dairy industry group. Typically, state dairy associations along with public health organizations and the farm bureaus represent the biggest opposition to raw milk legislation.
In testimony before the Georgia legislature in 2021, GMP executive director Faith Newberry stated that Georgia had declined from five hundred twenty-five dairies producing raw milk for pasteurization in 2000 to one hundred fourteen in 2021. Newberry said that legal retail raw milk sales would provide market opportunities for the smaller
Grade A dairies.
Georgia law currently allows the sale of raw milk for pet consumption with minimal regulation; a number of small producers sell under this law. It remains to be seen whether these producers will benefit from the Georgia Raw Dairy Act. HB 1175 gives broad rulemaking power to the Georgia commissioner of agriculture to adopt regulations implementing the bill’s requirements; the regulations must be of uniform application. It is uncertain at this time whether small, non-Grade A producers wanting to sell raw milk direct to the consumer will be able to afford the cost of compliance.
Hawaii is one of the remaining six states where any raw milk sale or distribution is illegal. Over the past decade, numerous raw milk bills have been introduced, with none of them making it out of committee. This year was different; House Bill 2028 (HB 2028) passed out of the House before dying in the Senate when the chairs of a joint committee assigned the bill refused to give it a hearing.
HB 2028 would have legalized the licensed sale of raw milk and raw milk products direct to the consumer; licensed producers were limited to two lactating cows. The bill also legalized the sale of raw goat milk for pet consumption; in 2021, state officials confiscated raw pet goat milk from some twenty stores on the island of Oahu, issuing cease and desist orders to the store owners. A major flaw in the bill was that it gave broad rulemaking power to the state department of health, an agency very hostile to any raw milk sales or distribution. The state is badly in need of legal raw milk; at this time, there is not a single Grade A dairy producing milk in Hawaii—leaving the state dependent on milk shipped from California.
Iowa is another state prohibiting any raw milk sales and distribution. In recent years, no raw milk bill introduced has made it out of committee. Like Hawaii, this year was different; Senate File 2309 (SF 2309) passed out of the Senate before dying when the House Agriculture Committee refused to give the bill a hearing.
HF 2309 would have allowed the unlicensed sale of raw milk and raw milk products direct to the consumer on the farm or through delivery. There were testing, recordkeeping and labeling requirements but there would be an inspection under the bill only if the dairy’s milk was believed to be the cause of illness. Opposition from the Iowa Farm Bureau was a key factor in SF 2309 not passing. All states bordering Iowa have legalized raw milk sales or distribution to some extent—costing Iowa dairy farmers substantial income.
Missouri law already allows the unregulated sale of raw milk and cream on the farm and through delivery; licensed dairies can also sell direct to the consumer at other venues such as farmers markets. House Bill 1977 (HB 1977) would have also allowed the sale of raw milk and cream by licensed dairies direct to grocery stores, restaurants and similar establishments as long as the dairies met the standards established for Grade A pasteurized milk in the state. HB 1977 passed through the House but was still in Senate committee when the 2022 legislative session ended.
NEW HAMPSHIRE – RAW ICE CREAM SALES NOW LEGAL
On March 18, Governor Chris Sununu signed into law House Bill 95 (HB 95), legislation making the unregulated sale of raw ice cream and raw frozen yogurt legal from producers direct to consumers. HB 95 went into effect on May 17.
The new law allows “producer-distributors” to process up to 20 gallons of raw milk into ice cream and/or frozen yogurt daily and sell those products direct to consumers at the producer’s farm or farmstand or at a farmers market in intrastate commerce. Ice cream and frozen yogurt produced under HB 95 must be packaged in containers no larger than 6 fluid ounces and must be “marked with an expiration date 30 days from the date of manufacture.”
All producers are exempt from licensing and inspection. HB 95 expands prior law which allowed the unregulated sale of raw milk by producers of up to 20 gallons per day and the unregulated sale by producers of cheese aged 60 days, yogurt, cream and butter processed from up to 20 gallons of raw milk daily. The new law does require that producers selling any raw dairy product sold under the exemption have a label with the name, address and phone number of the producer-distributor’s farm, the name of the product and the following statement: “This product is made with raw milk and is exempt from licensing and inspection. RAW MILK: consuming raw milk may increase your risk of foodborne illness.”
New Hampshire is the latest of numerous state legislatures in recent years to expand the sale or distribution of raw dairy products other than milk. Less resistance from the dairy processing industry along with increased consumer demand for raw dairy indicate this is a trend that will continue.