Barnard, Vt Representative Teo Zagar will introduce a new raw milk bill to the legislature in the coming weeks. The aim of the bill according to Rural Vermont is to “to expand economic opportunity and create fairness for raw milk producers as well as expand choice and access for raw milk customers”.
The bill aims to amend the current Vermont Raw Milk Law which can be found here. It proposes 8 amendments to the current law. These proposed amendments range from labeling on the milk jars, testing raw milk and the distribution of raw milk.
There are several changes in particular that American Micro-Dairies supports on the proposed bill:
1. The proposed bill would permit the sale of value-added dairy products: cheese aged 60 days or more, cream, skim milk, butter, kefir, and yogurt (all Tiers). Currently it is unlawful in Vermont to sell any value added dairy product made of raw milk.
2. The proposed bill would change the wording of the labels placed on each jar sold of raw milk. Currently the bill requires the label reads:
“This product has not been pasteurized and therefore may contain harmful bacteria that can cause illness particularly in children, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems and in pregnant women can cause illness, miscarriage or fetal death, or death of a newborn.”
Zagar’s proposal changes the wording to:
“Unpasteurized (Raw) Milk. Not pasteurized. Keep refrigerated. Raw milk is not pasteurized. Pasteurization destroys organisms that may be harmful to health. If handled improperly, raw milk may be harmful to health. Raw milk must be kept at 40 degrees or less at all times.”
The proposed labeling recognizes the risk of consuming a raw product but does not resort to scare tactics and sensationalism. It is a more unbiased label that does not aim to hurt the raw milk producer but rather only to keep the consumer informed of risk.
4. The proposed bill would increase of the allowed weekly production of raw milk for both Tier I producers (up to 100 gallons) and Tier II producers (to more than 100 gallons with no limit). Currently the limits of production are 87.5 gallons and 280 gallons per week respectively. The increase in production would present significant economic gains for raw milk producers.
Parts of the proposed bill cause concern at American Micro-Dairies. Specifically the proposed change of the bi-monthly testing standard for somatic cell count from 225,000/ml for cows and 500,000/ml for goats to a monthly testing standard of 400,000/ml for cows and 750,000/ml for goats for Tier II producers. Somatic cell counts are integral to determining the health of the lactating animal. The proposed higher counts would be much closer to the counts that are cause for concern for the health of the animal.
If you live in Vermont and would like to see this bill acquire more representative co-sponsors Rural Vermont is asking for your help by 4pm tomorrow (2/24/15). They are asking you to call your representative and urge their support of the bill.