Raw milk bill dropped into hopper at Georgia statehouse

Raw milk bill dropped into hopper at Georgia statehouse

by Sue Jones
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An ambitious 22-page bill to permit raw milk and raw milk products in Georgia is in the state’s House hooper. House Bill 1175 is optimistic because it promises that raw milk produced in Georgia will be healthy from healthy animals.

Under current law, it is illegal to sell raw milk for human consumption in the Peach State.

HB 1175 opens Georgia up to raw milk while tamping down federal policies that limit raw milk production, mainly by probating its transportation across state lines.

The bill was introduced on Feb. 2 by several Republicans. If enacted, it would set up a licensing and regulatory structure for the production handling, transporting, and sale of raw milk and raw milk products for human consumption in the state of Georgia.  

Licensed raw milk producers would have to follow specific safety and licensing standards.

HB1175 would conflict with federal law in that it includes provisions for the importation of raw milk into Georgia from other states.

Raw milk is milk without pasteurization for food safety. For safety sake, people should not drink raw milk, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Pathogens in raw milk are recognized sources of illnesses and death.

Federal law is clear, saying since 1987 that: “no person shall cause to be delivered into interstate commerce or shall sell, otherwise distribute, or hold for sale or other distribution after shipment in interstate commerce any milk or milk product in final package form for direct human consumption unless the product has been pasteurized.”

Federal law both bans the transportation of raw milk across state lines and extends authority to the national government to ban unpasteurized milk within the borders of a state.

The dual jurisdiction over raw milk is somewhat similar to the legal treatment of marijuana, where state and federal governments have differing approaches. The Georgia law encouraging raw milk imports, however, could set up a confrontation.

States that allow the sale of raw milk within their borders, threaten the nullifying of the federal prohibition scheme.  

The raw milk bill was assigned to the Georgia House Agriculture Committee for initial review and consideration.

The current session began Jan. 10 with adjournment scheduled for March 13.  Republicans control both houses of the legislature and the governor’s office.

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