Update, 4/19: We accidentally jumped the gun a bit when we said below that the raw milk bill was on its way to the House floor for debate. Actually, first it has to make a stop in the Calendars Committee to get placed on the calendar to be debated on the House floor. Currently the Calendars Committee has a backlog of bills, plus it's at the chair's discretion to place bills on the calendar. So, until the bill is placed on the calendar, it's in limbo. And if it doesn't get a date by May 7, the last day to get a dance on the House floor, it's dead.
Original post: Late yesterday afternoon House Bill 46, which allows for expanded raw milk sales, was voted out of the Texas House Public Health Committee by a vote of 9-2. While it's not time to pop open a box of cereal just yet because the bill still has to pass through the full House and Senate, then get the signature of the governor, things look good. Recall that the Texas Legislature primarily works on a committee system, where bills are closely scrutinized in those smaller groups; so if a bill gets churned out, hopefully it can sail through the rest of the way.
As Scott Reitz pointed out recently, the Texas Medical Association tried to put the kibosh on the raw milk party, citing a possibly inflated report on illnesses caused from consumption of unpasteurized milk. Like Scott mentioned, we can buy ciggies, eat raw oysters and drink beer if we want, so why not a little milk from a cute cow?
Judith McGeary with the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance -- who is a huge champion of these types of issues, including the cottage food bill -- is happy with the bill for the most part.
"The core part, allowing farmers to bring milk to consumers," McGeary says, "instead of forcing consumers to drive to the farm every time they want to get some milk, is intact."
McGeary cited three main compromises made to the bill that allowed it to get out of committee:
1. An expanded warning label. 2. Fewer locations allowed for the point of sales, including the farm where the milk is produced, a farmers market or a residence, with no delivery outside of those locations. 3. A requirement to transport the milk cold and under sanitary conditions.
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McGeary points out that the last requirement was already part of the existing regulations, "but the bill now spells it out."
I'd like to point out that in regard to the expanded warning label; we're governed to label things that are processed in their most-natural form, however, we're also governed that genetically modified food does not have to be labeled. Like the giant Frankenfish salmon-eel swimming our way. That doesn't have to be labeled. Yet, raw milk comes with a large warning.
Focusing on the positive! Dairy farmers are surely willing to label their goods if it means expanded sales. If the bill passes, look for raw milk at farmers markets after September 1 of this year.