By Kimberly Hartke and Pete Kennedy, Esq.
If there was ever a time to lift government controls and bans on interstate sales, it is now. With our national economy in crisis, and businesses in all sectors on the brink of ruin, we need to start crossing laws off the books that hinder trade and economic growth. And, let’s start with laws that are roadblocks to sustainable farming.
Congressman Ron Paul, has introduced a bill (HR 778) that would free farmers to transact milk sales across state lines. This bill would repeal the current ban on raw milk and raw milk products for human consumption in interstate commerce. The ban has made it more difficult for health conscious consumers to access raw milk and has hurt the ability of raw milk producers to make a living. More information is posted on www.farmtoconsumer.org or, click here.
There is a link at the end of this article where you can click and instantly express your support for this bill. It will automatically send a letter to your House and Senate representatives, asking them to sponsor or support this legislation. Please take action, today!
On January 28, 2009 Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) introduced HR 778, a bill “to authorize the interstate traffic of unpasteurized milk and milk products that are packaged for direct human consumption.” Under the bill, the federal government “may not take any action…that would prohibit, interfere with, regulate, or otherwise restrict the interstate traffic of milk, or a milk product, that is unpasteurized and packaged for direct human consumption solely on the basis that the milk or milk product is unpasteurized….” The bill defines “interstate traffic” as “the movement of any conveyance or the transportation of persons or property…from a point of origin in any State or possession to a point of destination in any other State or possession….”
Passage of the bill into law would repeal the federal regulation prohibiting raw milk and raw milk products for human consumption in interstate commerce. That regulation (21 CFR 1240.61) provides, in part, that “no person shall cause to be delivered into interstate commerce or shall sell, otherwise distribute, or hold for sale or other distribution after shipment in interstate commerce any milk or milk product in final package form for direct human consumption unless the product has been pasteurized….”
The regulation is judge-made law having been issued in response to a 1986 court order requiring FDA to prohibit the sale of raw milk and raw milk products in interstate commerce. The people’s branch of government, the Legislature, had no input in the issuance of the regulation.
The bill honors States’ rights and would not force a State to legalize the sale of raw milk by producers within its boundaries nor would it force a State to allow the sale of raw milk from out-of-State producers in its retail stores. As the law currently stands, raw milk cannot even be shipped from a State where its sale is legal into another State where the sale is also legal. The bill would enable consumers to enter into transactions to obtain raw milk and raw milk products from other States without the transactions being in violation of federal law.
The consumption of raw milk is legal in every State, yet its sale is currently illegal in about half the States. HR 778 would enable those living in States where the sale of raw milk is illegal—and those living in States where the sale is legal but sources are not present—to be able to exercise their legal right to consume raw milk. As Congressman Paul stated in introducing the bill, “Americans have the right to consume these products without having the Federal Government second-guess their judgment about what products best promote health. If there are legitimate concerns about the safety of unpasteurized milk, those concerns should be addressed at the state and local level.”
FDA’s position is that “raw milk should not be consumed by anyone, at any time, for any reason.” The agency is working to impose this belief upon those who would disagree. FDA is currently pushing some States to toughen their laws on raw milk production and sales while trying to move other States to ban the sale or other distribution of raw milk altogether. Rather than meddling in the States’ exercise of their police powers, FDA should be focusing its resources and attention on the many problems that exist in our faltering industrial food system.
Raw milk producers stand to benefit significantly from the passage of the bill. Nearby and accessible markets would be opened up to them with the passage of the bill. Small dairy farms, whose continued existence is threatened, could be enabled to survive with the additional customers that would now be available to them. Conventional small dairies suffering from the collapse in milk prices paid them by dairy cooperatives could transition to selling or otherwise distributing raw dairy products with a greater likelihood of success. Lifting the ban would also promote the local food movement by connecting consumers with producers who happen to live just across state lines.
Kimberly Hartke is the Publicist for the Weston A. Price Foundation Farm-to-Consumer Foundation. Pete Kennedy, Esq. is the President of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund. Visit the FTCLDF website at farmtoconsumer.org. Weston A. Price Foundation westonaprice.org, educates consumers about the nutritional value of local foods raised using traditional, humane farming practices. Learn more about raw milk from The Campaign for Real Milk at realmilk.com.