PRESS RELEASE: U.S. Representative Massie Introduces Bipartisan Milk Freedom Legislation
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Massie (R–KY), Chellie Pingree (D–ME) and a bipartisan coalition of 18 other lawmakers have introduced legislation to improve consumer food choices and to protect local farmers from federal interference. The two bills – the “Milk Freedom of Act of 2014” and the “Interstate Milk Freedom Act of 2014” – are the first in a series of “food freedom” bills that Rep. Massie plans to introduce this year.
“As a producer of grass-fed beef, I am familiar with some of the difficulties small farmers face when marketing fresh food directly to consumers. Our 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.”
"Many consumers want to buy fresh, unpasteurized milk and regulations shouldn't get between them and the farmer who wants to sell it,” said Representative Pingree. “Given how many food scares there have been involving large-scale producers, it just doesn't make sense to spend money cracking down on small, local farmers who are producing natural, raw milk and cheese. The enforcement of raw milk regulations has been overzealous and needs to be reined in."
"As consumer, advocate, and mother, I have spent over a decade navigating a complex legal and regulatory maze to access raw milk and other fresh, local foods,” said Sarah Donovan of the Farm-to-Consumer Foundation. “These bills are an important step toward removing federal barriers between farmers and families."
"Raw milk is the only food banned in interstate commerce," said Pete Kennedy, President of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund. "Congratulations to Representative Massie 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 2014” (HR 4307) 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 2014” (HR 4308) 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 would preempt 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 discerning consumers. Personal choices as basic as ‘what we feed our families’ should not be limited by the federal government.”
Original co-sponsors of the Milk Freedom Act include Reps Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Jared Polis (D-CO), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Scott Rigell (R-VA), Walter Jones (R-NC), Paul Broun (R-GA), Steve Stockman (R-TX), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), and Justin Amash (R-MI). Original co-sponsors of the Interstate Milk Freedom Act of 2014 include Reps Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Jared Polis (D-CO), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Scott Rigell (R-VA), Walter Jones (R-NC) , Paul Broun (R-GA), Andy Harris (R-MD), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Ted Poe (R-TX), Marlin Stutzman (R-IN), Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), Steve Stockman (R-TX), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Scott Perry (R-PA), and Raul Labrador (R-ID).