2023 - Raw Milk Legislation
House Bill 1515 deals with the sale of raw milk directly from the producer to the consumer. In the beginning this bill only allowed sales from Grade A licensed dairies, but after a long hearing in the House Agriculture committee, the committee has voted to allow sales from ANY producer to the consumer without restrictions.
As amended, the bill allows any producer to sell raw milk to the end user for personal consumption. Sales could be any place: on farm, delivered, at a farmers market, etc., except for a retail store.
The bill exempts producers from any permits, certifications or labeling requirements by the Department of Agriculture or the Department of Health, or any other type of regulation. The amendments are modeled after a Montana bill passed last year.
This bill does NOT impact milk shares.
February 16 , 2023 - Amendments passed just today do the following: (These are from notes taken during the committee meeting and may not be exact, but convey the gist of the amendments.)
Change the wording of the bill beginning on Line 8 to state: A dairy farm may sell raw milk directly to a consumer for personal consumption. A dairy farm may not sell raw milk to a wholesaler or retail store for mass consumption under this chapter. The same must occur within the state boundaries and must not involve interstate commerce.
Specifically exempts raw milk sellers from regulation under the following sections of Century Code:
TItle 19.1 - Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (Department of Health controls)
Title 64 - Weights and Measures (Public Service Commission)
TItle 4.1-05 - Dairy Promotion Checkoff
TItle 4.1-25 - Dairy Product Regulation (Department of Ag)
TItle 4.1-26 - Milk Marketing Board
Title 23.09 - Food and Lodging (Department of Health) controls
Adds another section which states the producer can not donate raw milk to a "community-spirited" or social event. (Note: This section is so someone doesn't consume raw milk without notice or by accident.)
You can read the full text of the original bill here: https://ndlegis.gov/assembly/68-2023/regular/bill-index/bi1515.html?bill_year=2023&bill_number=1515
That page will also give you a look at the amended version of the bill as soon as it is available. Further tabs on that page allow you to see video from the hearing and committee questions.
This is a "buyer beware" bill. Of course producers need to provide a clean, healthy product, but consumers are also responsible for safe milk handling. The government is not regulating. Consumers need to ask questions about milk handling, testing, feeding practices, etc.
For anyone concerned about public health, we have the reports of foodborne illness outbreaks in North Dakota for the years 1988-2020. (We're waiting for an updated list.)
During that 32 year period, a total of 12 people were suspected (not proven as these cases rarely are) of becoming ill from raw milk. During that same time period, 24 people became ill from suspected water.
ALL FOOD is "potentially" dangerous because the same nutrients that nourish our bodies also nourish pathogens. Proper handling is key. Raw milk producers and consumers BOTH need to educate themselves and keep the product below 40 degrees.
This bill will be voted on by the full House of Representatives the week of February 20th. If it passes the House, it will go to the Senate Ag Committee for another hearing, ten on to the full Senate for a vote. If it passes the Senate in the current form, it will move to the Governor's desk for signature. If the Governor sigsn the bill, it becomes effective on August 1, 2023.
ACTION TO TAKE:
Please contact the individual members of the House of Representatives. You can call or send an email. Please keep your emails short and polite. Because House members are being flooded with emails, it is very important to put "Yes on Raw Milk" or "Yes on HB 1515" in the SUBJECT line of your email. Please contact legislators by the 20th.
IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS - Contact LeAnn Harner at email@example.com or 701-516-0707.