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Raw milk bill to allow more freedom for Texas producers

Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 00:02

Raw milk bill

image via Marler Blog

Raw Milk

The introduction of House Bill 46 to the Texas Legislature could mean more sales freedom for raw milk (milk from cows, goats or sheep that has not been pasteurized or homogenized) producers in the state if passed, allowing producers to sell their products at public places where other agricultural produce is currently sold but off limits for raw milk sales, such as farmer’s markets, side-of-the-road farm stands, flea markets and fairs. The new legislation could also open doors for farmers to deliver raw milk and related products directly to the consumer’s doorstep.

“Texans can legally buy farm-fresh, raw milk from licensed Texas dairies. But the government requires consumers to drive to the farm – which may be two or three hours away – to get it," according to the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, a national organization that supports independent family farmers. "The law burdens consumers, and it penalizes family farmers who are unfairly prevented from marketing their milk.”

The bill, introduced by Northeast Texas Rep. Dan Flynn and co-authored by Matagorda County Rep. Dennis Bonnen, will essentially remove current limitations on raw milk producers that require all sales to occur only on the farm property itself. Current law also prohibits individuals from purchasing or picking up raw milk products on behalf of someone else, or having those items delivered.

Interstate sales or even transportation of raw milk products is currently illegal throughout the United States, however some states, like Washington, California, and South Carolina, allow retail sale of raw milk from direct farm sales, delivery from the farm, or even through grocers where allowed by municipalities.

The passage of House Bill (HB) 46 in Texas, would not only provide more lenient options for both the seller and purchaser, but could also lay the ground work for legislation allowing the sale of raw milk and byproducts through local grocers and even restaurants.

According to Erica Alexander, a graduate student at Sam Houston State University studying Agritourism, the passage of HB 46 would be a step in the right direction, not just for producers, but for consumers as well.

“It’s the consumer’s choice [what kind of milk they want to buy],” said Alexander. “Farmers could make more profit without burdening the consumer by having to force the customer to drive to the farm. … [the bill] would increase the customer base and allow for more education of raw milk and agriculture to non-agriculturalists.”

The sale of raw milk is currently a hot topic around the country. Although medical agencies such as the Center for Disease Control warn of dangers of non-pasteurized milk, such as salmonella, listeria and e.coli, health food advocates and doctors alike tout that the benefits greatly outweigh any of the overdramatized risks associated with the consumption of raw milk or its byproducts.

Pasteurization of milk is a process that heats raw milk to a specific temperature and then quickly cools it, killing 99.999 percent of viable micro-organisms. However, the process doesn’t just kill bacteria that could potentially cause disease, it also wipes out many minerals and vitamins – including calcium (many of which are added as synthetic additives after pasteurization), as well as “good” bacteria such as proteins and enzymes – including lactoperoxidase, the enzyme necessary for the digestion of milk.

According to Los Angeles private chef Dr. Meg Haworth, the destruction of this enzyme, along with the other beneficial ingredients of raw milk, is the major reason lactose intolerant individuals have trouble digesting milk.

Is raw milk better than conventional pasteurized milk? Ultimately, that decision should be left up to each individual and state and federal legislation should encourage the ability to create those decisions, not hinder them. As for this once-lactose-intolerant writer however, raw milk is the way to go.

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