GOOD RAW MILK LEGISLATION IN PLAY
The Senate Ag Committee held a hearing on HB 1515 March 16th. Though the hearing was rushed because the committee was running late, Food Freedom advocates made their points:
1. Raw milk is a completely natural, nutrient-dense food.
2. Raw milk differs greatly from the milk you purchase in a store and, if you can no longer consume store-milk, you may very well be able to drink raw milk without digestive problems.
3. While any food can contain pathogens, raw milk is not inherently dangerous.
4. Consumers want the choice of buying raw milk when they wish.
5. Share contracts are merely milk sales with paperwork. This bill removes the paperwork.
6. No regulation is needed.
Bill sponsor Rep. Holle presented amendments to the committee which would require labeling and testing. The amendments were at the request of the Milk Producers Association (Grade A dairies), who oppose the bill in its current form.
We expect the Senate Ag Committee to take action on either Thursday or Friday of next week (March 23-24). We’re optimistic the Senate will give a Do Pass recommendation.
Please contact committee members and ask them for a "Do Pass" recommendation of the bill in its current form which you can read here.
Email addresses for Senate Ag Members are:
Larry Luick: email@example.com Janne Mrydal: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kathy Hogan: email@example.com Randy Lemm: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Weber: email@example.com Kent Weston: firstname.lastname@example.org
AN EXPLANATION OF THE HOUSE AG COMMITTEE AMENDMENTS – The amended version of the bill is here: https://ndlegis.gov/assembly/68-2023/regular/documents/23-0745-020
Amendment 1: Changes the wording of the bill, starting on line 8 of the printed bill to read as follows: "A farm may sell raw milk directly to a consumer for personal consumption. A farm may not sell raw milk to a wholesaler or retail store for mass consumption under this chapter."
This amendment passed the committee 13-0.
Amendment 2: "The sale must occur within the state and must not involve interstate commerce."
This amendment also exempts the producer from any regulation in these sections of Century Code:
Title 4.1-05 – Dairy Promotion Checkoff Title
Title 4.1-25 – Dairy Product Regulation (Ag Department)
Title 4.1-26 – Milk Marketing Board
Title 19 – Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (Health Department)
Title 23.9 – Food and Lodging (Health Department)
Title 64 – Weights and Measures (Public Service Commission)
This amendment passed 12-1. Representative Prichard voted no, stating he thinks you should be able to sell across state lines.
Amendment 3: Adds language stating, “The producer cannot donate raw milk to a community-spirited or social event.” This was presented at the suggestion of the Ag Commissioner, who wanted to be such anyone drinking raw milk was aware that it was not pasteurized.
The amendment passed 8-5, with the following representatives voting no: Fisher, Headland, Keifert, Prichard, and VanWinkle. The final version of the amended bill was recommended DO PASS on a vote of 13-0.
WHEN CONTACTING LEGISLATORS:
Be concise, clear and polite. 1-2 sentences in an email is fine.
When emailing, be sure to put in the SUBJECT line: “Yes on 1515” or “Yes on Raw Milk.” Sometimes legislators don’t have time to read each email, but they can quickly sort based on the subject line.
If you have questions, contact LeAnn Harner email@example.com or 701-516-0707.
House Bill 1515 was a raw milk bill introduced by Representative Dawson Holle. Originally, the bill would only have allowed Grade A licensed dairies to sell raw milk to consumers on their farm. The bill also would have allowed the Department of Agriculture to write rules to govern the process. It would NOT have impacted the milk share law already working in our state.
Preparing for the bill’s hearing, Representative Holle made a number of calls to dairy producers, asking them to give testimony. Other producers reached out to the legislator with questions and comments. During the House Ag Committee’s hearing on February 10th, it was evident that many producers wanted sales opened up to all those with dairy animals. At the same time, the Department of Agriculture provided testimony that they regulated pasteurized milk and didn’t want to expand into raw milk because of possible conflicts with the PMO (pasteurized milk ordinance). The committee took the input and several amendments were discussed.
February 16 – In their first official meeting since the bill hearing, committee members amended HB 1515 and sent it to the House Floor with a vote of 13-0 for DO PASS.
As amended, the bill allows any producer to sell raw milk to the end user for personal consumption. Sales could be any place other than a retail setting. This would include on the farm, delivered to the customer’s home, farmers market, etc. The bill specifically exempts producers from any permits, licensing, labeling or other regulation by the Department of Agriculture or the Department of Health. (Specific amendments are listed below.)
This is a “buyer beware” bill. Producers need to sell clean, healthy milk, but consumers are also responsible for safe milk handling. Consumers should ask questions about handling, testing, etc. before they buy.
For anyone concerned about public health. ND Food Freedom has the foodborne illness reports from the Department of Health for 1988-2020. (We’re still waiting for an updated report.) During those 32 years, only 12 suspected (these reports are almost never conclusive) illnesses were attributed to raw milk. During that same period, 24 people became ill of suspected contaminated water.
All food is “potentially” hazardous because the same nutrients that nourish our bodies also nourish pathogens. Proper handling is key to food safety. Raw milk producers and consumers must educate themselves and keep the product under 40 degrees.
February 20 - GREAT NEWS! HB 1515 just passed the House 83-10. Thank you to our supporters. There was a spirited debate lasting 25 minutes, which is pretty long at this time in the session. You can watch the video of the debate here beginning at 3:47:38: https://video.ndlegis.gov/en/PowerBrowser/PowerBrowserV2/20230220/-1/29131
The following were NO votes (voting against raw milk): Hanson, Ista, Karls, Klemin, Martinson, Monson, Murphy, Satrom, Schauer, and Speaker D. Johnson.
Watch video of the testimony here.
The Raw Milk Bill remains in the Senate Ag Committee. The next chance for action is March 30th.