The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens


Support, opposition offered to other farm bill amendments

While senators and their aides were still sorting through the more than 80 amendments introduced last week after the vote to proceed on the farm bill, many groups were offering comments on some of them.

Raw milk

The National Milk Producers Federation and the International Dairy Foods Association are presenting a united front in opposition to the amendment filed by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., that would allow the direct sale of raw (unpasteurized) milk and raw milk products across state lines.

Raw milk is popular with libertarians, and the issue helped the presidential campaign of Paul’s father, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas.

Federal law prohibits the interstate sale of raw milk, but allows states individual discretion to regulate raw milk sales within their borders. Several states in recent years have liberalized sale or distribution of raw milk, even as the product has been repeatedly linked to serious illnesses from coast to coast.

But National Milk and IDFA both said in a letter to members of the Senate that easier sale and movement of raw milk would enhance “the chances that people will become sick because of increased consumption of unpasteurized milk.”

“Pasteurization is one of the greatest public health tools,” said Jerry Kozak, president and CEO of NMPF. “To compromise or reduce its use through this legislation is not just bad politics — it’s a huge, inhumane step backwards, and one that will cause sickness and death.”

“The link between raw milk and foodborne illness has been well-documented in the scientific literature, with evidence spanning nearly 100 years,” said Connie Tipton, president and CEO of IDFA. “Raw milk is a key vehicle in the transmission of human pathogens, which is why its consumption has been opposed by every major health organization in the United States, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics.”

Kozak said lawmakers have to keep in mind that “nearly two-thirds of all outbreaks associated with raw milk or raw milk products involve children. It is the responsibility of our nation’s leaders to make decisions to protect the health of the American public, most especially, those who are minors and are unable to make fully informed decisions that could have profound consequences for the rest of their lives,” he said.

Tipton said that “While consumer choice is an important value, it should not pre-empt public health and well-being. Legalizing the sale of raw milk and raw milk products to consumers, either through direct sale or through cow-share programs, represents an unnecessary risk to consumer safety.”

Land easements

The Nature Conservancy on Friday praised Sens. Michael Bennet, C-Colo., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, for introducing amendments to ease enrollment in the agricultural lands easement program and make it more flexible.

“The Nature Conservancy fully supports this effort by senators Bennet and Crapo because they will allow more landowners to benefit from these easement programs that help conserve important resources while allowing farmers and ranchers to continue doing their work long into the future,” said Bob Bendick, director of government relations for the organization.

Wetlands conservation

Ducks Unlimited on Friday endorsed the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012, a farm bill amendment filed by Sens. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and John Thune, R-S.D.

Ducks Unlimited noted that the Tester-Thune amendment would reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, which provides challenge grants for wetlands conservation projects in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Every dollar of federal money allotted to NAWCA must be matched by $1 or more from non-federal sources like Ducks Unlimited, or state fish and wildlife agencies, the group noted.

The Migratory Bird Habitat Investment and Enhancement Act and the Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act are part of the Tester-Thune package, as are reauthorization of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, the Making Public Lands Public Access Act, the Billfish Conservation Act, and the reauthorization of the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program.

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership also said it would support the measure.