State Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-100) and state Sen. Mike Brubaker (R-36) announced recently that they have introduced legislation expanding options for raw milk production in Pennsylvania.Under current law, a holder of a raw milk permit from the state Department of Agriculture may sell only raw milk and aged cheese made from raw milk. The legislators' bills would:
o Require the Department of Agriculture to expand the raw milk permitting process to allow for the sale of any dairy product made from raw milk such as butter, soft cheeses, ice cream and yogurt
o Require the Department to issue permits for the sale of raw milk and products made from raw milk to entities, such as cooperatives, registered with the Department; those entities would then be responsible for the inspection and testing of their members under guidelines approved by the Department, subject to independent verification
The two pieces of legislation have been introduced as House Bill 2596 and 2597 and Senate Bill 1500 and 1501 in their respective chambers.
"We have been working on the issue of raw milk for more than a year and I believe these bills are a good start to further the debate," Cutler said. "While we may not be able to address every-one's concerns in the first round, I do believe we will make more progress on this issue than in the last 70 years."
Brubaker said that he is introducing the two bills in the Senate after hearing from farmers and consumers during a hearing on raw milk issues held on September 18, 2007, by the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, which Brubaker chairs. He said that hearing developed following the listening sessions held by the Committee through the spring of 2007.
"My colleagues and I heard from across the state during the listening sessions about the importance of allowing farmers access to the tools they need to remain profitable and consumers access to products they want," Brubaker said.
"I look forward to working with everyone going forward on the issue of raw milk and raw milk products," Cutler added. "I hope that we can raise awareness and educate the public while engaging in a respectful debate."