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Hearing on MA Raw Milk Legislation Scheduled for June 3 - Bill would allow licensed farmers to deliver raw milk to customers

A hearing has been scheduled to allow the public to offer testimony on the Massachusetts Legislature's bill H.717, 'An Act Relative to the Distribution of Raw Milk.' The hearing will be held on Monday, June 3 at 10:00 a.m. at David Prouty High School, 302 Main St., Spencer, MA.

This public hearing of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, will provide an opportunity for testimony on 17 bills (to see the list click here). We are urging raw milk farmers, consumers and supporters to attend the hearing and to offer either oral or written testimony in support of this bill.

Currently, state law allows dairy farmers, if licensed by the state, to sell raw milk to customers who come to the farm. The milk is regularly inspected and must meet the same standards of safety as milk which has been pasteurized. But the high price of fuel makes it hard for individuals to travel sometimes an hour or more to pick up small quantities of milk, and the state has refused to sanction cooperative buying clubs for this purpose.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Anne Gobi, will try to alleviate this problem by allowing farmers to deliver raw milk to customers. By providing for regulations that would give farmers a way to deliver raw milk to consumers safely, the Massachusetts Legislature would give dairies a tool for survival and provide access to a local agricultural product to consumers who are currently unable to travel to a farm to make a purchase.

The bill would also allow licensed raw milk dairies to sell their milk on land that they own or rent which is not contiguous to the land where they milk their animals. This is important for farmers who have farm stores in or near towns, but milk their cows in more remote areas. Currently they are not allowed to bring milk off the property where it is produced.

The rules of the Committee will allow any individual to testify for up to three minutes. Testimony must stay on topic and be relevant to the specific issues addressed in the legislation. Anyone may also submit written testimony at the time of the hearing, or mail testimony to Representative Ann Gobi, Room 473F, State House, Boston, MA 02133 by June 28.

The NOFA/Massachusetts Raw Milk Network supports this legislation. If enacted, this would help small dairies survive by giving them access to customers who are seeking raw milk but are unable to travel to the farm. Farmers will be able to ensure that the milk they sell is handled and transported properly and safely.

Raw milk sales are a proven tool for helping to preserve dairies in the Commonwealth. During a time when the state has lost hundreds of dairy farms, the number of raw milk dairies has more than doubled. These farms steward more than 3,500 acres of Massachusetts farmland, contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars to the local economy, and provide safe, fresh, healthy, local foods to thousands of consumers.

Please see www.marawmilk.org for more information about raw milk in Massachusetts, and click here for more information and talking points related to this bill. Contact Winton Pitcoff, coordinator of the NOFA/Massachusetts Raw Milk Network, at winton@nofamass.org, for more information, and to let us know if you plan to attend and testify.

A flier about this event is also available for posting, below.

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