Arkansas raw milk bill fails before House panel

March 15th, 2013. Arkansas raw milk bill fails before House panel. The Associated Press.

“A proposal to allow Arkansas farmers to sell unpasteurized milk failed to clear a House committee Friday.

Lawmakers on the House Agriculture Committee voted 9-8 against the bill, which would have permitted the sale of “raw” goat and cow milk at the farms where it’s produced. Farmers would have been allowed to sell up to 500 gallons per month on average.

Supporters of the measure included conservative lawmakers interested in reducing government regulation on farmers and food enthusiasts who said they wanted access to locally produced and, in their view, better-tasting milk.

Rep. Randy Alexander, R-Fayetteville, said government should not stand in the way of farmers wanting to sell the raw milk they produce. He said any safety concerns were minimal.

“Safety’s not the only question or, in my mind, even the most important question that we have to consider here,” Alexander said. “In my view, diluting the God-given freedom of our people is what constitutes an unacceptable risk. That erosion of our rights is clear and present danger to our citizens and even to our way of life.”

Lee Richardson, an award-winning Little Rock chef, told lawmakers that it is important to allow the sale of raw milk on farms to promote locally produced food.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not allow the sale of unpasteurized milk across state lines, but as of last year, at least 30 states have allowed the practice within their own borders, according to the National Conference for State Legislatures. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells consumers to avoid raw milk because it can carry harmful bacteria and other germs.

Opponents of the measure echoed those concerns at the hearing Friday.

“There is little question in my mind that drinking raw milk is risky,” said Dr. Glen Baker, a former University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences professor who directs the state’s Public Health Laboratory. “There is no question that pathogenic organisms are present in raw milk and that they are removed partially or completely destroyed by pasteurization.”

Mike Flagg, the general manager of Highland Dairy in Little Rock who serves on the Milk Stabilization Board, said if raw milk were legalized and a consumer became sick, the incident would result in negative publicity for all milk producers.

“Accidents will happen,” he said. “We’re afraid this is going to hurt the dairy industry.”

Alexander, the bill’s sponsor, said after Friday’s vote that he planned to ask the committee to consider the measure again before the end of the session. He said he wasn’t sure if he would make any changes to the proposal.”

Source

March 16, 2013. Why Did Raw Milk Curdle in House Committee? Nic Horton, thearkansasproject.com

“Before the bill was defeated on a roll call vote, it was ruled passed on a voice vote by Vice Chair Rep. Nate Steel. What happened?

Rep. Bob Ballinger, a freshman, conservative legislator from Hindsville, requested a roll call vote and it was seconded. But Rep. Ballinger has already proven himself to be a friend of liberty in the Arkansas House. Why did he request a roll call vote and leave the bill vulnerable to defeat? In a brief interview with The Arkansas Project, Ballinger said it was simply a mistake:

“The bill passed on a voice vote and I thought I heard the chair rule that the nays had it. What I thought was to help the bill I called for a roll call. I was mistaken and the roll call vote did not have enough votes to pass the bill. I made a big mistake, when I thought I was helping my friend Rep. Alexander and a good bill. According to Rep. Alexander, he is bringing the bill back to be heard again.”

Rest of the article is available to read here: http://www.thearkansasproject.com/why-did-raw-milk-curdle-in-house-committee/

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