Legislature Votes to Legalize Raw Milk Sales on Iowa Farms

(Radio Iowa) One hundred members of the Iowa legislature have voted to let Iowa dairy farms sell raw milk. If the governor signs the bill into law, it would still be illegal to sell unpasteurized milk at farmers markets or in restaurants, but raw milk and products like cheese or yogurt made with raw milk could be sold at the farm where it’s processed. Senator Jason Schultz, a Republican from Schleswig, celebrated last (Monday) night as the senate was on the verge of taking final action on the bill.

“Senate File 315 is the fresh milk, the freedom milk bill I call it…and I have been waiting actually 17 years to say: ‘Madame President, I move the Senate concur’…and ask for a yes vote,” Schultz said, getting a round of laughter from his peers. Forty-nine legislators in the House and Senate voted against the bill. Representative Megan Srinivas, a Democrat from Des Moines, says drinking raw milk can be dangerous and as an infectious disease doctor, she’s treated several children who were exposed to bacteria in raw milk.

“As an infectious disease physician, anecdotally I have seen several cases of kids who are brought before me because they’ve been exposed to the bacteria that come from unpasteurized milk,” Srinivas says. “…It’s one thing if it’s an adult choosing what milk that they’re consuming, but when we have children who are falling victim because they are given milk that can make them sick, have permanent or even lethal ramifications, that’s where I get concerned.” Representative Bobby Kaufmann, a Republican from Wilton, says people have been consuming raw milk for thousands of years.

“It’s just an option, just like I can get eggs, a quarter of beef, honey or an apple,” Kaufmann says. “We’re simply adding this to a list of foods that people can get without ‘Jiminy Cricket’ the government sitting on their shoulder and whispering what’s best for their families.” The dairy industry opposes the bill, arguing if there’s an outbreak of serious illness associated with raw milk, then ALL milk sales will decline. If the bill becomes law, raw milk sold at an Iowa farm would have to be stored below 45 degrees and sold within seven days of a cow being milked.