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NMPF and IDFA Join Forces to Oppose Congressional ‘Milk Freedom Act’

April 4, 2014

Raw milk, until now mostly an issue in state legislatures, has migrated to Congress, where freshman Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) has introduced the “Interstate Milk Freedom Act” to repeal the long-standing ban on selling unpasteurized milk across state lines.

In a March 25 letter, NMPF and the International Dairy Food Association joined forces to oppose the legislation, arguing it would greatly increase the production and consumption of a known health hazard. “Raw milk skips the pasteurization safety process, and this is playing Russian roulette with the health of too many Americans – including many of our children,” the letter said.

Federal law gives states the discretion to regulate unpasteurized milk within their borders. Thirty states, many lobbied by a small but vocal band of advocates, now allow some form of raw milk purchases. In 12 states, consumers can purchase raw milk at retail stores; in most others sales are limited to farms, farmers’ markets and “cow-share” programs under which consumers become part owners of a dairy cow.

NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern said, if the Massie bill passes, children will be the ones who suffer the most. “The benefits of consuming raw milk are illusory, but the painful costs of illness and death are very real,” he said.

The Centers for Disease Control says that only one to two percent of reported foodborne illness outbreaks are attributed to dairy products but that, among those, more than 70 percent are associated with raw milk and inappropriately‐aged raw milk cheeses.