DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowans may soon be able to buy raw milk directly from the farm.
A bill on Gov. Kim Reynolds’ desk would legalize the sale of unpasteurized milk in the state.
Many states currently allow farmers to sell raw milk directly to customers. If Reynolds signs the bill, Iowa would join that list.
Under current Iowa law, dairy farmers must get their milk pasteurized before they can sell it or any products created from it. Pasteurization kills bacteria that could be harmful.
Though farmers could sell milk without pasteurizing it under the bill, they would have to test their milk monthly for dangerous bacteria like E. coli. They would have to post the results publicly at the farm. The animals would also have to be tested by a veterinarian annually.
Despite these safeguards, health experts fear bacteria could fall through the cracks and get people sick.
“It opens people up to getting sick to things like salmonella, to listeria, to E. coli, and then they can then spread it. It can be spread through a lot of different means, said Jared Parmater, the president of the Iowa Environmental Health Association.
Mariah Busta, the executive director of the Iowa State Dairy Association, said her organization opposes the bill because it fears the bacteria potentially found in raw milk could get people sick. It also believes the safeguards laid out in the bill are not strong enough.
The bill’s supporters, like Tyler Raygor, the deputy state director for Americans for Prosperity Iowa, point to the success of raw milk in other states to say illness outbreaks shouldn’t be a major concern.
“The largest dairy-producing state in the country, California, allows raw milk to be sold in stores. And so if we were going to see those illnesses and those outbreaks, we probably would have already seen it and we probably would have seen heavy damage to the dairy industry already,” Raygor said.
California law allows stores to sell raw milk. The proposal in Iowa would limit sales to farms.
Reynolds has not publicly said whether she will sign the bill.