TRENTON – The Senate Economic Growth Committee held off on releasing the raw milk-selling bill (S2702), which is presently illegal in the Garden State.
Chairman Raymond Lesniak said because of time constraints and another “contentious” bill being on the agenda, coupled with other scheduled committee hearings the members would need to attend, he decided to have the bill re-listed at a future hearing.
Lesniak admitted there may not be enough votes yet to release the bill. He, himself, said he’s leaning for it, but said he would like to see the bill include retail establishments instead of only dairy farms.
The seller must make sure the raw milk they are selling contains no growth hormones used in the production process, and there must be warnings stating that raw milk does not provide the protection of pasteurization.
The sellers must allow inspections to be conducted and comply with all applicable provisions of New Jersey’s dairy laws.
At the packed hearing, raw milk advocates supported the legislation, saying it would help relieve such things as allergies and asthmas.
A holistic medicine endocrinologist said she has prescribed raw milk for patients suffering from osteoporosis and migraines.
“It’s a cost-efficient effective way,” said Dr. Linda Robins.
She said many residents have to travel to states like Pennsylvania and New York to buy the product.
However, the New Jersey Food Council was opposed to the legislation, saying it could lead to “dairy-related illnesses.” Any possible outbreak caused by the product could make the whole dairy industry suffer, the Council argued.
Sen. Joe Vitale questioned one physician who said raw milk could help patients suffering from autism. In many of his questions, Vitale asked the physicians in support of the product to point out scientific evidence to substantiate their claims.
“To me, it sounds like a discovery,” he said about the autism claim. “I’ve never heard that before.”
There are approximately 30 states that allow the sale of raw milk. Dr. Lawrence Frankel, a pediatrician, said by way of objection if 10 people go to a cliff, would you go to a cliff as well.
And Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-13) of Middletown, took exception to that portrayal of other states doing something wrong. “We should keep the rhetoric to a reasonable level,” Kyrillos said.
The permit program would be funded by a permit fee estimated by the department to cover the costs of administering the program, the bill states.
Cows used for raw milk production would be tested by the state. The permit holder is also required to conduct tests, at the permit holder’s expense, to measure the levels of certain bacteria and pathogens in the raw milk produced, the bill said. Failing test results are required to be reported to the department. If the permit holder fails to meet certain standards, by failing two consecutive tests in a one year period, then the raw milk permit may be revoked, according to the bill.