***USA - ACTION ALERT***
Raw Milk Bill HR 778 Needs Co-Sponsors
Congressman Ron Paul has introduced a bill (HR 778) that 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 consumers to access raw milk and has hurt the ability of raw milk producers to make a living.
Passage of the bill into law would go a long way to stopping the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in its efforts to completely shut down the supply of raw milk.
To be successful, HR 778 must have co-sponsors. Your help is needed. Now is the time to mobilize consumers and farmers across the U.S.
On January 28 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.
ACTION TO TAKE
HR 778 has been assigned to the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Those supporting the bill should contact members of the Committee as well as their own Representative to encourage them to sign on as co-sponsors for the bill. See links and committee members below.
Supporters of the bill are encouraged to write letters and make phone calls. Letters of one page or less can be sent to each member by email and then sent by postal mail. Suggested points to make in the letter are as follows.
1. The bill upholds consumer freedom of choice. The consumption of raw dairy products is legal in all fifty states. The bill enables consumers to exercise their legal right in States where the sale of raw milk and/or raw milk products is illegal or where there are no in-State sources.
2. The bill upholds States’ rights. Decisions about the safety of raw milk should be made at the state and local level, not by the federal government.
3. The bill supports family farms by expanding their markets for raw dairy products. The bill increases the chances of survival for those dairies that are no longer able to subsist solely on the income from the dairy cooperative system.
4. The bill promotes the local food movement by connecting consumers to producers who happen to live just over state lines.
5. The bill would free FDA to focus on the pressing problems in our food system, e.g., tainted imports, under-inspected large-scale food processors.
TRACK BILL STATUS
The status of the bill can be tracked on the internet by entering “HR 778” in the Search field at www.thomas.gov; be sure to select “Bill Number” instead of “Word/Phrase”.
Click here to contact members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Each member has an electronic mail webpage as well as a personal homepage.
Click here to contact other Members of Congress; search by state to locate your Representative. For more contact details, you can also go to
Visit our website for more information at http://www.farmtoconsumer.org/news/news-01feb2009.htm.
Pete Kennedy, Esq.