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Proposed law would legalize selling raw milk

By Lauren Maschmedt, KTVM Anchor, lmaschmedt@ktvm.com
Published On: Mar 31 2013 10:14:11 PM MDT
Updated On: Apr 01 2013 02:44:42 PM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

"Come here goaties!" Sue Brown called to her goats. She owns Amaltheia Dairy, and raises and milks goats.

The milk is pasteurized at the factory in Belgrade where the company makes cheese. But when it's milked from the goat and stored in a holding tank on the farm, it's raw and untouched.

"We have people calling us weekly, asking for milk," Brown said. There's a demand for raw milk, she said, and there's many health benefits to drinking it.

Under current law, she can't sell her raw milk. But House Bill 574 would change that. She'd be able to sell raw milk from her farm.

HB 574 also allows small farms to sell products made from raw milk- like yogurt or butter.

Brown's on board with the idea, but said she has a few issues with it.

"There are no rules," she said. The bill doesn't provide regulations for how the raw milk is produced for smaller farms- meaning farms won't have to adhere to any sanitation or handling laws.

Brown said Amaltheia is a Grade A, USDA approved operation- and they follow strict cleanliness protocols at every step of the process.

Otherwise, people could get sick.

She said it starts with how they milk the goats. Amaltheia uses an automatic system to milk their goats. So when the milk comes out of the utter, it doesn't come in contact with the air- preserving the cleanliness of the milk.

"Cleaned, sanitized, and rinsed- everybody has to understand you have to do those three steps if you want it to work," Brown said.

She worries if the law's passed without providing regulations, smaller operations that don't have the proper education and procedures will produce unsafe raw milk and products- and Brown fears it'll give raw milk a bad name.

Brown's friend, Lark Smothermon, wrote and submitted bill amendments.

"I've suggested that a certification/education piece is attached to it- which is doable, affordable for everyone that focuses on milk safety," Smothermon said.

Another amendment prohibits producers from selling products made with raw milk. Smothermon said without the regulations or oversight to enforce regulations- it's just too dangerous to allow.

They both said the bill is a great idea, but they hope the legislature will look at the amendments and approve accordingly.

Click here to learn more about House Bill 574, and track it's progress through the legislature.