Update: Raw milk sales now legal in Iowa
On May 11th, Governor Kim Reynolds signed the bill. Raw milk sales will be legal in Iowa!
Check out the Iowa raw milk farms and retailers added to the map so far.
Raw milk bill in Iowa
Raw milk sales are currently outlawed in Iowa, that could change soon.
Senate File 315 has passed a senate vote with 37 yaes and 13 nays and will head to the governor’s desk. You can read the full text of the raw milk legalization bill on the Iowa Legislature website.
This law would allow farmers and consumers to interact and transact directly, circumventing the food processing corporations who currently gatekeep dairy sales in the state.
SF315 outlines requirements for producing raw milk for human consumption in Iowa.
A bill for an act relating to raw milk, by providing for the production of raw milk at certain dairies, the manufacture of products using raw milk, and the labeling and distribution of raw milk and manufactured products, and making penalties applicable. (Formerly SSB 1107.) Effective date: 07/01/2023
Food safety requirements
If a farmer wants to sell raw milk for human consumption in Iowa, under this law, they will be required to take steps to minimize contamination and spoilage risks.
- Raw milk must be stored below 45ºF.
- Raw milk must be sold within 7 days.
- Animals must be tested for bacterial infections.
Raw milk labeling
Under this law, raw milk sold will be labeled to inform customers that the milk has not been pasteurized.
Notice to Consumers – This container holds raw milk that is not subject to state inspection or other public health regulations that require pasteurization and grading.
Who is against raw milk legalization?
You might be thinking, who would want to use the force of law to prevent consumers from supporting their farmers directly?
It’s the typical suspects: food processors. Here’s a full list of lobbyist declarations, this is a spreadsheet of entities standing for and against the legalization of raw milk in Iowa.
Let’s dive into one vocal and illustrative example, the Iowa State Dairy Association (ISDA). Here’s a list of who sponsors the ISDA.
- Agropur (food processor)
- Prairie Farms Dairy (food processor)
- AMPI (food processor)
- Foremost Farms USA Cooperative (food processor)
- Wapsie Valley Creamery, Inc. (food processor)
- National Farmers (food processor)
- Dairy Farmers of America (food processor)
- Land O’Lakes, Inc (food processor)
Why do food processors lobby against raw milk?
Food processing companies purchase raw milk by the ton from dairy farmers, process that milk, and sell it in retailers nationwide.
Without mandatory pasteurization laws, the farmers that food processors purchase from will have the option of selling direct-to-consumer. With mandatory pasteurization laws, the farmer is in a bind and can only sell their milk to food processors.
Of course, mandatory food processing laws are in the food processor’s interest.
Public health concerns can be managed through the development of food safety procedures, as is happening in states where raw milk sales are legal. Food processors get behind these arguments so they can distance themselves from the conflict of interest.
I’m not convinced the pasteurized milk industry would crumble if Iowa raw milk consumers were free to support their farmers directly, but these companies don’t want their valuation or profits to drop at all – so they fight to prevent the paradigm-shifting competition that is raw milk.
Why raw milk sales are important
When my raw milk farmer needs an extra few cents per gallon to cover costs, he can adjust his price.
When a dairy farmer who can only sell to processors needs an extra few cents per gallon to cover costs, they do not have the bargaining power to convince the processor purchase their milk at that price.
By legalizing raw milk sales, dairy farmers will have the option to circumvent this gatekeeping and sell directly to informed consumers.
The primary event that transformed this project from a personal tool, to the easiest and most advanced way to find raw milk online worldwide, was the surge in consumer interest checking out raw milk because it was the only milk on the shelf in the natural food aisle for sometimes weeks in 2020.
During the pandemic, and the very much not unified array of responses to the pandemic, food supply chains worldwide were placed under pressure. Organic pasteurized milk (from organic food processors) was missing on the shelves for two weeks here.
On the other hand, my raw milk farmers didn’t miss a beat. They are not bottlenecked by food processors whose more complex system faced a ton of issues that were irrelevant to the farmer and irrelevant to the consumer.
I had milk.
Organic pasteurized milk consumers did not.
Simple as that.
Instead of simply Fortnite dancing over your milkless body, I coded up a way for you to join us as raw milk consumers supporting our local farmers directly.
Let’s hope Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signs this bill in support of her state’s farmers and consumers.
Follow the Farm To Consumer Legal Defense Fund for general raw milk legal updates.