Proposed Raw Milk Regulations in Illinois and South Dakota

By Pete Kennedy, Esq.

Update, Winter 2015

After nearly three years of working on raw milk regulation, the Illinois Department of Health (IDPH) still has more work to do. On August 11th the Joint Committee on Administrative Regulations (JCAR), a legislative body that has the final say on approving proposed rules, voted to prohibit the filing of IDPH’s proposed rules with the Secretary of State—pro- posed regulations do not become law unless they are filed with the Secretary. The rules IDPH submitted to JCAR were an amended version of proposed regulations the department issued in September 2014. Over seven hundred people had submitted comments on the original version; nearly all of them opposed.

For over thirty years, IDPH had a successful policy of allowing unlicensed on-farm sales; there was not a single case of foodborne illness legitimately attributed to a raw milk producer operating under the policy. (See Wise Traditions Summer and Fall 2013 issues for background.)

Through the proposed regulations, the department is trying to implement a two-tier licensing system where producers who meet requirements outlined in the proposed rules can obtain a license to sell raw milk on the farm while those who meet Grade A requirements, including expensive physical facility requirements, can deliver and sell raw milk to off-farm customers. The proposed rules would require herdshare operations to meet the Grade A mandates.

Both raw milk proponents and opponents opposed IDPH’s amended version of the rules. Even raw milk producers who were willing to submit to licensing and inspection thought the sanitary standards in the proposed regulations were too broad and subject to abuse by inspectors. The Northern Illinois Public Health Consortium—which had unsuccessfully pushed legislation to ban raw milk in 2014 (see Wise Traditions Summer 2014 issue)—and other public health organizations opposed IDPH’s amended version of the rules, mainly on the grounds that they would allow the retail sale of raw milk in population centers instead of just on the farm, which is what the original version called for. JCAR’s notice prohibiting filing of the rules stated, “This rulemaking has not achieved an adequate balance between the State’s role in protecting the public health and its mission to avoid unduly burdensome regulations on small business. JCAR finds that adoption of this rulemaking in its current form would not be in the public interest.”

JCAR can still lift the prohibition on filing the rules but first IDPH would need to reach an agreement with stake- holders (e.g., representatives for raw milk producers and consumers, the dairy industry, Farm Bureau and public health agencies) on a compromise version of the rules. According to one media report, if an agreement couldn’t be reached on the rules within one hundred eighty days after JCAR voted for prohibition, “then all future efforts to regulate raw milk must be implemented legislatively” (, “Raw Milk Amendments Prohibited”, August 17, 2005).