Despite warnings from U.S. health organizations like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that consuming raw (i.e., unpasteurized) milk is dangerous, the wholesome, natural food has a loyal and growing following.
You might remember that at one time all milk was “raw,” as pasteurization did not yet exist. This 19th century invention is touted as crucial in making milk safe, but what it’s actually done is allow the proliferation of the “dirty dairy” industry, aka milk that comes from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOS).
On CAFOs, milk can be produced in filthy conditions, then heated until all the pathogens are gone.
Never mind that, along with killing “germs,” pasteurization kills off beneficial organisms in the milk and prevents natural souring (while naturally soured milk can still be consumed, pasteurized milk past its prime will quickly go bad).1
Rather than forcing dirty and dangerous CAFOs to clean up their acts, the FDA has waged a war against raw milk producers — those who are typically producing milk using far healthier, more humane and more sustainable methods than the industrial dairy industry ever could.
Under the guise of protecting public health, they’ve been slowly chipping away at Americans’ food freedom, including the choice to consume raw milk whenever and wherever they please. Fed up with the irony and blatant violation of human rights, the Tenth Amendment Center is calling on states to legalize raw milk.
FDA Raw Dairy Prohibition Favors Big Dairy, Squeezes Out Small Farmers
The Tenth Amendment Center is one of the latest NGOs to get involved in the raw milk legalization cause. The 10th Amendment reads:2
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
What this means, then, is that the FDA is in violation of the Constitution by trying to enforce raw milk bans within states.
Such bans tend to favor industrial dairy at the expense of small, family farms, according to Mike Maharrey, national communications director for the Tenth Amendment Center. He said in a position paper:3
“Constitutionally, food safety falls within the powers reserved to the states and the people … The feds have no authority to enforce food safety laws within the border of a state. Nevertheless, federal agencies still want more control over America’s food supply, and they go great lengths to get it.
For example, the FDA bans the interstate sale of raw milk. But, not only do they ban the transportation of raw milk across state lines, they also claim the authority to ban unpasteurized milk within the borders of a state.
FDA ultimately wants to maintain a complete prohibition on raw milk with a one-size-fits-all control over everything you eat and drink.
While FDA apologists claim the agency only wants to protect consumers, in truth, federal regulations tend to benefit big companies and squeeze out family farms. In the name of safety, FDA regulations limit your ability to access local, fresh food.”
Three States Introduce Bills to Legalize Raw Milk
As more Americans demand the right to purchase and consume locally sourced food of their own choosing, increasing numbers of states are introducing legislation to loosen restrictions regarding intrastate sales of raw milk. Raw milk, by the way, is the only food banned from interstate commerce.
Three states have also introduced bills to legalize raw milk sales within their borders. This includes:
House Bill 257 would make it legal for farmers to sell shares of cows or herds to those interested in purchasing raw milk. The raw milk could also be sold for animal consumption.
The bill would also legalize the sale of raw milk in retail stores, provided it contains a warning label about the “risks” of consuming unpasteurized milk.4 A provision in the bill would also require farmers to maintain records of everyone who purchases raw milk.
House Bill 1433, currently pending before the state Legislative Assembly’s Joint Agriculture Committee, would allow farmers to sell raw milk directly to consumers.
As it stands, North Dakotans who wish to purchase raw milk must purchase a share of the cow or herd. The bill also bans attempts by state or local governments to require warning labels on the milk, although it does require that consumers be informed that the milk isn’t inspected.
House Bill 46 would make it legal for farmers to sell raw milk directly to consumers. Currently, consumers must purchase a share of a cow or goat to obtain its raw milk. The milk would be required to carry a warning label.
Rep. Geran Tarr, D-Anchorage, who introduced the bill, told ADN Alaska News “she decided to introduce the raw-milk legislation after talking with farmers last year who said the restriction was burdensome.”
“Tarr said legalizing raw milk could help build the state's small dairy industry, which has struggled historically,” ADN continued:
“But by making raw milk sales legal, Tarr said, it's possible that small- and medium- size producers could form cooperatives or find other ways to sell their product by starting small.”5
The bill also includes an amendment to a state law to allow the state to purchase local agriculture products if they are no more than 15 percent more expensive than a similar product grown elsewhere in the U.S. Currently, the limit is set at 7 percent, so the amendment stands to boost local food production. ADN reported:6
“Tarr said increasing percentage would make it easier for farmers to get their products purchased by the state. That would possibly increase agricultural opportunities in Alaska.
Tarr acknowledged that it might mean the state pays more for food, but she said it would be a marginal increase of only thousands of dollars — not millions — that would go directly back into local industry.”