Raw milk may soon be available in Montana and Arkansas as lawmakers from both states move closer to legalizing unpasteurized dairy products, according to Food Safety News.
In Montana, the state House backed the bill in late March, and now the bill is in front of the Senate Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation Committee, which could give the bill a “do pass” recommendation soon. If passed, it would create a small herd exemption from current mandatory milk pasteurization requirements.
In Arkansas, the House revived a raw milk bill previously killed by committee and passed it in a 60 to 19 vote. The bill, HB 1536 would permit the sale of raw milk from cows and goats on the farm where it’s produced as long as the amount sold does not exceed 500 gallons per month. It would also require farmers to post a sign informing consumers that the milk is neither pasteurized nor inspected by the state.
In both bills, consumers would be responsible for illnesses resulting from consuming contaminated raw milk products. It’s this risk of illness that has prompted health officials and dairy farmers alike to voice their concern about the potential health hazards of raw milk.
"To advocate drinking unpasteurized milk is moving the clock back," Craighead County, Ark., Health Officer Dr. Joe Stallings told KAIT News in an article available here.
Likewise, in Montana, concerned dairy producers worry what illnesses could do to the industry.
“We have a dairy industry in the state of Montana, and it’s something that we all bust our butts to make a living at,” dairy farmer Jeff Lewis told the Missoulian. “The biggest issue I see with the bill is it would completely undermine the dairy industry. It doesn’t put us on an even playing field.”
“This whole raw milk thing, there is people getting sick all the time,” he said. “There was a bunch of people that got sick in Alaska recently. The people that advocate this forget to tell people about that.”