The work of the 127th Legislature is underway. There are more bill proposals in the works than ever before that, in one way or another, seek to promote, protect or grow small-scale diversified farming in Maine. As you may know, the good intent of legislators can get very altered as the bill goes through the process of becoming a law. We will keep you up to date as all proceeds this legislative session.
The first two bills that are ready for a public hearing are about raw milk.
PUBLIC HEARING ON BOTH BILLS IS THURSDAY, MARCH 12
1 PM, CROSS BUILDING, ROOM 214.
Background: It is legal to sell raw milk at farmers’ markets and retail outlets under state licensing and inspection. Before 2009, it was also legal to sell raw milk directly from a farm with no licensing or inspection so long as the farm didn’t advertise. This policy changed in 2009 when Dairy Inspection Services moved from the Animal Health Division of the Department. Of Agriculture to the Quality Assurance and Regulation division. The policy change happened within the agency and did not undergo a process of legislative oversight or public input. In every legislative session since then, there have been bills proposed to correct this and restore legitimacy in state law to on-farm sales of raw milk and/or milk products.
LD 229: An Act to Exempt Small Raw Milk Producers from Licensing Requirements. Rep. Jefferey Hanley, Pittston
This bill exempts the sale of raw milk and raw milk products from licensing so long as 20 gallons or less are sold or processed into dairy products daily. Milk must be sold directly to consumer at the farm, farm stand or at a farmers’ market. Milk and milk products must be clearly labeled with the name, address and phone number of the farm, the name of the product and the following statement: “This product is made with raw milk and is exempt from State of Maine licensing. There must be a sign where the milk is sold that has the name, address, and phone number of the farm as well as the statement that “Products from this farm made from raw milk are exempt from State of Maine licensing.”
LD 312: An Act To Allow the Sale of Unregulated Farm-produced Dairy Products at the Site of Production, Rep. Bill Noon, Sanford
This bill facilitates direct sales of dairy products sold on farm ]by exempting those sales from state licensing and inspection requirements if the sales are made directly to an “end-consumer” on the farm only, and the farm customer is allowed to visually inspect the farm; the farm doesn’t advertise in any way; the farmer completes a course in dairy sanitation every 3 years and displays certificate at the point of sale, and the farmer must post a water test result at the point of sale.
Your voice matters! Share your story, tell why it is important to you to protect access to food raised in your community, let your representative and senator hear from you. Come to Augusta on March 12th and share your testimony with the Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.