Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), who introduced legislation last year to eliminate the US government’s ban on growing hemp in accordance with state laws, last week introduced two bills that would remove US government restrictions on the sale of raw milk and raw milk products. The two new bills are the Milk Freedom Act (HR 4307) and the Interstate Milk Freedom Act (HR 4308).
Raw milk and raw milk products, such as cheese and butter, are distinguished from other milk and milk products by having not been pasteurized. People may seek out raw milk and raw milk products for a variety of reasons, including because they desire better taste and nutrition.
The US government’s war on raw milk has real victims. Dan Allgyer is one example. Allgyer, an Amish farmer in Pennsylvania, was forced to shut down his Rainbow Acres Farms in 2012 after a US district court judge ruled Allgyer had violated US law by selling to a buyers group in Washington, DC that the US Food and Drug Administration had infiltrated in a sting operation. Indeed, Rep. Chelli Pingree (D-ME), the lead Democrat cosponsor of the raw milk bills condemns the US government’s overzealous enforcement in explaining her support for the bills:
Given how many food scares there have been involving large-scale producers, it just doesn’t make sense to spend money cracking down on small, local farmers who are producing natural, raw milk and cheese. The enforcement of raw milk regulations has been overzealous and needs to be reined in.
Of Massie’s two bills, HR 4307 offers the more comprehensive rollback of US law. This bill, like HR 1830 introduced in the House by RPI Chairman and Founder Ron Paul in 2011, aims to eliminate the US government’s prohibition on interstate sales of raw milk and raw milk products for human consumption. In contrast, HR 4308 takes the more limited step of removing US government interference with the interstate sale of raw milk and raw milk products only if the raw milk or raw milk products originate from, and are transported to, states that allow their sale for human consumption. HR 4307 was introduced with 10 original cosponsors, while HR 4308 was introduced with 18.
Below, from the Congressional Record, is Paul’s May 11, 2011 statement regarding HR 1830:
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce legislation that allows the shipment and distribution of unpasteurized milk and milk products for human consumption across state lines. This legislation removes an unconstitutional restraint on farmers who wish to sell or otherwise distribute, and people who wish to consume, unpasteurized milk and milk products.
Hard as it is to believe, the federal government is actually spending time and money prosecuting small businesses for the “crime” of meeting their customers’ demand for unpasteurized milk! Recently the Food and Drug Administration conducted a year-long sting operation targeting Rainbow Acres Farms in Pennsylvania. As a result of this action, Rainbow Acres’ customers will no longer be able to purchase unpasteurized milk from this small Amish farm.
Mr. Speaker, many Americans who the government wishes to deny the ability to purchase unpasteurized milk have done their own research and come to the conclusion that unpasteurized milk is healthier than pasteurized milk. These 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.
I urge my colleagues to join me in promoting individual rights, the original intent of the Constitution, and federalism by cosponsoring my legislation to allow the interstate shipment of unpasteurized milk and milk products for human consumption.