Representatives Chellie Pingree (D–ME) and Thomas Massie (R–KY), and a bipartisan coalition of 16 other lawmakers have reintroduced legislation to improve consumer food choices and to protect local farmers from federal interference. The two bills–the Milk Freedom of Act of 2015 (H.R. 3563) and the Interstate Milk Freedom Act of 2015 (H.R. 3564)–are the newest in a series of "food and farm freedom" initiatives the two have championed this year, following the Industrial Hemp Act of 2015 (H.R. 525) and the PRIME Act (H.R. 3187).
"These bills would make it easier for families to buy wholesome milk directly from farmers by reversing the criminalization of dairy farmers who offer raw milk," said Rep. Massie. "The federal government should not punish farmers for providing customers the foods they want, and states should be free to set their own laws regulating food safety."
"A lot of people want to buy fresh, unpasteurized milk and regulations shouldn't get between them and a farmer who wants to sell it," said Rep. Pingree. "It just doesn't make sense to spend money cracking down on small, local farmers who are producing natural, raw milk and I think the enforcement of raw milk regulations has been overzealous and needs to be reined in."
"Raw milk is the only food banned in interstate commerce," said Pete Kennedy, President of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund. "Congratulations to Representatives Massie and Pingree for starting the process of repealing a regulation that thousands of otherwise law abiding citizens violate every week in this country."
Raw milk is fresh milk that has not been pasteurized, and may contain beneficial nutrients that have not been eliminated by the pasteurization process. Although Congress has never passed legislation banning raw milk, the federal Food and Drug Administration has used their regulatory authority to prosecute farmers for selling raw milk.
The Milk Freedom Act of 2015 would provide relief to local farmers, small producers, and others who have been harassed, fined, and in some cases even prosecuted for the "crime" of distributing unpasteurized milk. This bill would prohibit the federal government from interfering with the interstate traffic of raw milk products.
Likewise, the Interstate Milk Freedom Act of 2015 would prevent the federal government from interfering with trade of unpasteurized, natural milk or milk products between states where distribution or sale of such products is already legal.
No provision of either bill wouldpreempt or otherwise interfere with any state law.
Massie concluded, "Today, many people are paying more attention to the food they eat, what it contains, and how it is processed. Raw milk, which has been with us for thousands of years, is making a comeback among these discerningconsumers. Personal choices as basic as 'what we feed our families' should not be limited by the federal government."