Milk Wars Reach Detente: Some Like it Raw


You like it raw?
  • You like it raw?

Raw milk advocates won a little-noticed victory in the last week when a new bill was introduced to keep the substance viable, sailed through the House with only three no votes and passed a Senate committee unanimously this morning.

In the House, the dairy industry stood with raw milk advocates in supporting a compromise for small farmers and unpasteurized dairy enthusiasts alike.

“There were no hitches and no objections to the bill,” said Rep. Ken Andrus. “The dairy industry was there and supported it.”

Earlier this year, the subject seemed to be put to rest after the House Agricultural Affairs Committee passed a rule on raw milk which would have become law at the close of the session. However, some small farmers backed by a lobbyist for East Idaho nutritional supplement giant Melaleuca took action, saying that the rules nearly made raw milk illegal. A recent closed-door meeting between lawmakers, lobbyists, the state agricultural department and dairy industry seemed to quell the squabbles.

“There was some resolution and compromise,” said Andrus after that meeting.

Andrus explained the private meeting was a negotiation process to make exceptions to the former ruling, allowing farmers (with up to seven lactating cows) to use raw milk for personal use and cow shares. But he said there was strong opposition.

“The dairy industry is concerned about their industry, and their profits,” he said.

Idaho milk farm profits amounted to over $2 billion in 2008, according to the United Dairymen of Idaho website. Dairymen representatives were present at the closed meeting and said they were pleased with the results of the compromise.

“We support the (new) bill,” said Bob Naerebout, Executive Director of the Idaho Dairyman’s Association. “I don’t think they will be anybody speaking in opposition to it.”